Is there a cure for hepatitis? A look at treatments

Written by: Professor Patrick Kennedy
Published: | Updated: 20/09/2023
Edited by: Jay Staniland

The treatment for viral hepatitis will depend on the virus causing the hepatitis in the first instance. For example, hepatitis A and hepatitis E tend to be acute and self-limiting infections meaning they get better themselves.

The difficulty with viral hepatitis is the viruses which cause more chronic disease and lead to chronic liver disease. These are specifically hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and in some cases, hepatitis D or delta virus which is a super co-infection with hepatitis B.


Hepatitis C


There are new, very effective antiviral drugs available which have been shown to eradicate the virus in up to 95% of patients in a relatively short period of time, sometimes from only 8 or 12 weeks.


Hepatitis B


Hepatitis B is more challenging in that there is currently no cure. When it is treated, the patient is virally suppressed which reduces the virus to very low levels, where it is not believed to cause harm.

This means that with hepatitis B, patients will quite often be required to be on medication for a very long period of time, or even lifelong in some cases.


Future developments in hepatitis treatment


There are significant changes afoot with new drugs in development which should improve the chance of achieving a cure for hepatitis B.

Pegylated interferon is still being used in a proportion of patients, which works by boosting the host’s immune response against the virus, essentially helping the patient to control the virus themselves.

A lot of developments will be seen over the coming years in the treatment of hepatitis B as this is currently an area of very rapid development.




One of the latest developments in the diagnosis and management of viral hepatitis is the use of FibroScan. FibroScan is essentially a non-invasive modality for us to assess the degree of liver damage or liver disease in patients presenting with viral hepatitis.

Previously, doctors would often need to perform a liver biopsy to assess the amount of disease, whereas these days, FibroScan is a simple, non-invasive technique which takes about 10 minutes to assess the amount of damage there is in the liver. This means that patients at the same consultation are informed of whether they have significant disease or whether it can be excluded. This is a major development in the field.

The ongoing treatment and management of viral hepatitis is relatively straightforward. With hepatitis C patients, treatment is required, and where the treatment is successful, the patient can often be discharged from the clinic provided that there’s no significant established liver disease.

However, in hepatitis B, because drugs are used to virally suppress the patients to gain control of the virus without eradicating it, the treatment is more long term and the supervision and monitoring are also long term. FibroScan will be used to monitor liver scarring and fibrosis, and whether the treatment has caused a reversal, a major objective of the treatment.

If you would like to make an appointment to see a specialist in viral hepatitis, you can find the ones on the Top Doctors website here.

By Professor Patrick Kennedy
Hepatology (liver specialist)

Professor Patrick Kennedy is a leading London-based consultant physician and hepatologist, whose work in viral liver disease is known internationally.
Professor Kennedy trained at University College Dublin. Upon completion of his initial medical training, he undertook post-graduate training in London and was subsequently appointed as a senior lecturer at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2009.

Professor Kennedy  has a special interest in the management of liver disease in young people, working closely with premiership football clubs and managing liver disease in professional sports people and elite athletes from the UK and abroad.
He has produced novel work redefining disease phase in chronic hepatitis B (CHB). The main focus of his curent research work is around broadening treatment candidacy and the development of individualised treatment strategies for viral liver disease. He is widely published in the field of hepatology, with over 200 publications and 90 peer-reviewed articles, in addition to multiple book chapters, he has also edited a textbook of hepato-gastroenterology.
Additionally, Professor Kennedy is an expert advisor for the WHO and is part of the HBV clinical guideline development group. He is also a member of the European Association for the study of the liver (EASL) HBV clinical practice guidelines and has served as a member for NICE on the viral hepatitis clinical guideline committee.
Furthermore, Professor Kennedy provides expert opinion for the United Kingdom Advisory Panel (UKAP) on blood-borne viruses and is the current chair of the British Viral Hepatitis Group and former Lead for the British Association for the Study of the Liver (BASL) HBV special interest group. He works closely with industry and provides expert opinion on drug development programmes.
He is the principal Investigator for a number of investigator-led and commercial phase 1, 2 and 3, clinical trials of novel therapies in viral liver disease. At present, he leads studies on the development of novel therapies in HBV and hepatitis delta virus (HDV). In addition, he is passionate about patient education and ensuring patients play a central role in their own management. Professor Kennedy has developed HBV&Me, a management app, and a current area of his research is expanding the utility of patient management tools to improve care.

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