Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
June 19, 2021
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a curable virus.
Hepatitis C virus is considered “cured” if the virus is no longer detectable.
You can be considered cured when the virus is no longer detected in your blood when measured three months after your treatment is completed. The lack of detection of the Hepatitis C virus in your blood is called a “sustained virologic response (SVR), and data suggest that you will stay virus-free indefinitely,” as defined by the CDC.
Hepatitis C refers to the inflammation of the liver by the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C impairs liver function, leading to further problems that can become chronic if left untreated.
Symptoms might not occur at all––if they do, it will usually be within two weeks to three months of exposure.
Hepatitis C symptoms that could be experienced include:
According to the World Health Organization, “the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.”
The illnesses that can develop from chronic hepatitis include:
If you have acute hepatitis, the duration will vary from patient to patient – some cases last from two weeks to three months, while more severe cases can last up to 6 months.
Yes, hepatitis C is contagious. While it’s impossible to contract hepatitis C from an airborne contagion, it is very contagious through an infected person’s blood. Over 2.5 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have hepatitis C.
Once in your body, hepatitis C can “evolve,” changing itself to subvert your body’s natural defense against viruses. This property of the hepatitis C virus helps explain why over half of all patients with acute cases develop chronic cases after a month or two. This also explains why patients who have had HCV in the past can develop it again, even though the body usually forms antibodies to fight off viruses.
Hepatitis C is not contagious like the common cold or other common viruses where you can get infected by just being exposed to someone with the virus. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus and can be detected by getting a blood test through your healthcare provider.
Hepatitis C is spread through exposure to blood from an infected person. In any case, in which the blood of an infected person enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person, the previously uninfected person is likely to become infected.
There are a few common scenarios in which this may happen:
Because of the sheer number of strains of hepatitis C (there are 67 subtypes), there is currently no vaccine.
There are, however, treatments such as antivirals that will manage symptoms and help defeat the virus while the body takes care of it on its own. According to the WHO, “Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.”
If you believe you were maybe exposed to Hepatitis C or might have it, you should speak to a doctor and get on antivirals quickly. Our partner PlushCare offers online doctor appointments with board-certified physicians who can diagnose, treat, and prescribe when necessary. Make your doctor appointment now, and be sure you’re getting the best treatment for Hepatitis C.
Yes. Hepatitis C is curable. Most people with acute hepatitis C can clear it with antivirals and a healthy immune system.
Refrain from using alcohol while being treated for hepatitis C – your liver already has its work cut out for it. Most cases of hepatitis C are curable in a few months with the help of antiviral pills. Hepatitis C, like many viruses, may technically resolve on its own – but to reduce the chances of developing more severe conditions, it’s recommended that hepatitis C patients follow a doctor-recommended treatment.
Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, your healthcare provider will most likely recommend you receive the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.
Pregnant women during pregnancy and anyone over 18 should be screened regularly for hepatitis C. Online doctors can analyze test results after patients take mail-in tests or have previous in-person test results sent in. If you have concerns about your liver, be sure to talk to a doctor as soon as possible. You can make an appointment with PlushCare doctors here if you’d like to get follow-up questions answered immediately without having to go to a doctor’s office.
If you have HIV or think you may have HIV, be sure to inform your doctor as soon as you can. Hepatitis C can become extremely dangerous when combined with HIV, given an HIV patient’s lowered immune response.
Luckily hepatitis C is curable, especially if you’re getting tested regularly and catch your infection early.
Unfortunately, someone who has been cured of the virus in the past is still subject to possible exposure and infection again in the future. Unlike some viruses, you can still contract hepatitis C after you’ve already been infected prior. Even if you have been infected prior, keep yourself as healthy as possible, avoiding situations that put you at risk of infection.
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