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How do these meds work??
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How do these meds work??

I have a question, in lamens terms. I am on peg/rib but this is for all the meds in general. Ok so my understanding is that rib fights virus, and peg boosts immune system. So what do the meds do once the virus is und?? Is that why people get low red blood counts? Does it then start to attack everything, like chemo? And if we make interferon in our own body, why is it so hard on us? I've seen the medical reports and quite frankly do not comprehend the way the meds work. Can anyone explain in simple terms how they work?
Ty jen
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Hi Jenge. I would say your understanding is as good as mine is. At least that is what my trial nurse told me.
"So what do the meds do once the virus is und??"  My guess is they kill the virus that may be hiding else where in our body's (besides blood)  .. I was told our WBC goes down because we are taking interferion, therefore our white blood cells don't have to work to fight off virus, infection and what have ya.
"And if we make interferon in our own body, why is it so hard on us?" Well our body's make adrenalin and energy too, but speed probably is not good for us. Just a guess, maybe the interferon is a little different from what we make naturally or maybe its just more than were use to? Personally interferon, riba, and maybe a study drug, was not hard on me (guess i was just lucky)
When I got my first round of drugs. The instructions, warnings, and a list of  sx was so long it covered my whole table. So I didn't read it, instead  I put it in my file for (kindle starter for my wood burning stove ;-0) )
I am happy you are UND though, now that's good news ;-)
Maybe someone else will have better awnsers to your questions, which I might add that I had the same questions running thru my mind as you did when I started. And my understanding was and is the same as yours. I just decided that Life is so busy and complicated, that I had done my job, by taking the pills and shots, and by figuring out how to get treatment, and what treatment to take. After all that I'll just let the pharma company's and the chemist's and all the folks making names for these drugs, that I cannot even pronounce or spell , do their job's ;-0). lol. Ginger
This article should answer your questions in layman's terms...
Hepatitis C Medication: An Overview

Peginterferon can work by itself to treat the disease, but ribavirin cannot. Using the two medications together for hepatitis C is called combination therapy.

The hepatitis C virus, or HCV, is constantly making copies of itself in your liver cells. Your immune system has been working hard to fight off the virus, but since the virus is constantly multiplying, your immune system needs some help.

Peginterferon and ribavirin are currently the best weapons in the fight against hepatitis C. Together, these hepatitis C medications can kill the HCV and help make your immune system stronger so it is even better at destroying the virus. When you take combination therapy, both of these things happen inside your body at the same time.

Interferon Versus Peginterferon
Alpha interferon is a substance that is made naturally in your liver and other parts of your body. It is a protein that helps your immune system work better to fight off infections, such as hepatitis.

The interferon drug that is often prescribed for hepatitis C is a synthetic version of alpha interferon. This means that it is made in a laboratory, but looks the same and does the same things as the natural protein.

Ribavirin is a pill that you take in the morning and in the evening every day for as long as you are on combination therapy. It may actually help strengthen your immune system, which is your body's natural defense against infection. With a stronger immune system, your body can be more effective in getting rid of the hepatitis C virus.

Since ribavirin does not treat hepatitis C by itself, it must be used with either alpha interferon or peginterferon. Together, these hepatitis C medications can slow down the rate at which the virus multiplies.

When Do These Medications for Hepatitis C Take Effect?
Within hours of taking them, peginterferon and ribavirin can start to make the amount of viruses in your blood go down.

The problem is that the hepatitis C virus can make trillions of copies of itself every day. So although medicines for hepatitis C may be helping your body destroy a lot of the viruses right away, it can take some time to really see a difference. That is why it is so important to follow your treatment program exactly how your healthcare provider explains it.

Within a few months of beginning combination therapy, your healthcare provider will be able to tell whether the treatment is working for you. This is done by testing your blood for hepatitis C virus RNA (see Hepatitis C Viral Load). You may remember that this same test was used earlier to tell whether you had the virus in your body and how much of it was there.

This test is generally done about three to six months after beginning combination therapy. If the hepatitis C treatment is working, no RNA will be detected during the test given at six months. But if it is not working, viral RNA will still be found in your blood.

Your healthcare provider will let you know whether your levels of virus RNA have gone down enough. It is important to know that even if no viral RNA is found in your blood, you may still need to finish the treatment program. If you stop the medicine early, before the end of your treatment, it is possible that the hepatitis C virus will return.

In some people, combination therapy destroys nearly all of the virus during treatment, but once the therapy stops, the virus begins to spread again. If this happens, your healthcare provider will discuss your treatment options with you.

Side Effects of Hepatitis C Medication
While peginterferon and ribavirin are the medications of choice for treating hepatitis C, most people experience at least a few side effects from this combination therapy. While many of these reactions are mild or moderate in nature, others can be problematic.

If side effects from the hepatitis C drugs are making you feel bad, it does not mean that the treatment isn't working. Even if you experience side effects, the medications can be helping your body get rid of the virus. They can also be helping your body reverse the damage already done to your liver. The viral RNA blood test will let you know how your treatment is going.

Your blood is made up of several substances, some of which are:

Red blood cells
White bloods cells

The red blood cells in your blood carry oxygen -- sometimes called "O2" -- to all the cells in your body. Your organs and tissues need this oxygen to function properly. Because the red blood cells deliver the oxygen throughout your body, it is important that there are enough of them to do the job. Combination therapy for hepatitis C frequently causes the number of red blood cells in a person's blood to go down. This is called anemia.

Since your body tissues need oxygen to work right, a decreased level of red blood cells and oxygen can cause you to feel tired. For those who already have heart and circulation problems, anemia can become very dangerous. With this in mind, your healthcare provider will test your blood before starting the therapy and several times during treatment to make sure your level of red blood cells is where it should be.

You also have white blood cells in your blood. White blood cells play a very important role in your body's immune system -- they help your body fight infections from things like bacteria. Because combination therapy can decrease the amount of certain types of white blood cells, it can be easier for you to get an infection.

Platelets are small pieces of cells that make your blood sticky. This helps your blood to seal off a blood vessel when it has been cut. In this way, platelets are like your own natural bandage. Because combination therapy can also lower the level of platelets in your blood (known as thrombocytopenia), some of your tissues -- like your skin and gums -- can bleed more easily if they are cut or bruised.

If you notice any of the following things, call your healthcare provider right away:

Any unusual bleeding or bruising
Blood in your urine or stool
Black stools
Red spots on your skin.

These can be signs of internal bleeding, and you may need additional treatment.


U need to be on the triple tx i did incevick. This added med keeps thevirus from mutating into a different strain of the virus. Thats why people fail on the double txt cause the virus mutates. God bless
Jenge is genotype 3 so tri tx is not protocol, however she is in a GS 7977 trial comparator arm with SOC waiting to be rolled over to the study drug because of the poor response.
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