J Hepatol 2008 Oct 17;49(4):625-33. Epub 2008 Jul 17.
Clinic of Infectious Diseases, University of Bari, Policlinico, Bari, Italy.
The acute phase of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection represents a key point in the evolution of hepatitis C. In some patients, the infection resolves spontaneously, whereas in others it develops into chronic disease. However, because acute hepatitis C is often asymptomatic, detection and diagnosis are usually difficult. What is more, there are no established treatment guidelines, leaving physicians to make several challenging decisions, such as whether to treat, when to treat and what treatment regimen to use. Pegylated interferon alfa monotherapy is most commonly used to treat patients with acute hepatitis C; the role of ribavirin has yet to be established. In this review, we discuss the epidemiology of acute hepatitis C, its risk factors and routes of transmission and current treatment practices. We also discuss data from published clinical studies and focus on unresolved issues for which additional studies are needed in order to establish standardized treatment guidelines for the management of acute hepatitis C.