Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Infection and HCV-Related Chronic Disease.
MMWR 1998; 47 (no. RR-19): 15-16.
Postexposure prophylaxis and follow-up
Available data regarding the prevention of HCV infection with IG indicate that IG is not effective for postexposure prophylaxis of hepatitis C (67,141). No assessments have been made of postexposure use of antiviral agents (e.g., interferon) to prevent HCV infection. Mechanisms of the effect of interferon in treating patients with hepatitis C are poorly understood, and an established infection might need to be present for interferon to be an effective treatment (142). As of the publication of this report, interferon is FDA-approved only for treatment of chronic hepatitis C.
The immediate postexposure setting provides opportunity to identify persons early in the course of their HCV infection. Studies indicate that interferon treatment begun early in the course of HCV infection is associated with a higher rate of resolved infection (143). However, no data exist indicating that treatment begun during the acute phase of infection is more effective than treatment begun early during the course of chronic HCV infection. In addition, as stated previously, interferon is not FDA-approved for this indication. Determination of whether treatment of HCV infection is more beneficial in the acute phase than in the early chronic phase will require evaluation with well-designed research protocols.