If you're diagnosed with a , one of the most reassuring things to know is that there is a cure. With new, highly effective medications available for treating chronic hepatitis, patients are cured of hepatitis c every day. But still, even after successful treatment, many patients are nagged by the question: can hep c come back after being cured?
While the short answer is 'no,' there are some important factors to consider that make recurring hepatitis c virus infection a topic worth discussing. If they become reinfected, patients can find themselves back where they started with hepatitis c.
At , our goal is to empower patients with the knowledge and resources they need to take control of their hepatitis c journey. We also provide judgment-free and prescriptions online -- we're here to cure hepatitis, regardless of whether or not it's your first time testing positive.
Here's what you need to know about what it means to be cured of a chronic hepatitis c infection, as well as the chances of the hepatitis c virus coming back after being cured.
HCV Treatment: How We Cure Hepatitis C
The hepatitis c virus is a blood-borne pathogen that primarily infects the liver. The virus can cause acute or chronic liver disease and is a leading cause of death from liver disease worldwide.
Chronic hepatitis c infection is characterized by the persistence of the virus in the body for more than six months. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis c can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Fortunately, there is a cure for chronic hepatitis c infection. The current standard treatment for hepatitis c is known as 'direct-acting antivirals.” These drugs are taken orally and are generally well-tolerated with few side effects.
How Long Does Hep C Treatment Last?
The standard course of treatment for hepatitis c is 8-12 weeks of therapy. Today, cure rates are 98%! This is defined as having no virus in the blood 12 weeks after finishing treatment.'
In other words, if you're cured of hepatitis c, that means the virus is no longer present in your body and you can't infect others with the virus.
When Does Hep C 'Come Back?'
Hepatitis C never 'comes back.” However, it is possible to become reinfected with hepatitis c.
Hepatitis C Reinfection
It is possible to reinfect yourself with hepatitis C if you participate in any 'at-risk behaviors'. It's also more common in people who live in areas with high rates of the virus, such as certain parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
If you're cured of hepatitis c and then become reinfected with the same or a different strain of the virus, you can be treated again. However, it's important to note that not all treatment regimens are effective against all strains of the virus. That's why it's so important to talk to your specialist about your risk factors for reinfection and to get tested for the virus on a regular basis.
What Are the Risk Factors for Reinfection?
There are a number of risk factors that can put you at an increased risk for reinfection after being cured of hepatitis c. These include:
- A history of substance use: People who share IV needles and 'works' or other drugs can become reinfected with the virus after being cured. This is also true of sharing straws or dollar bills while snorting drugs.
- Unsanitary body mods: Tattoos & piercings that are not acquired at a licensed business can cause hep c reinfection.
- Getting frequent blood transfusions or dialysis: People who require frequent blood transfusions and dialysis are at an increased risk for exposure to the virus and, as a result, reinfection.
- Having unprotected sex: While sexual transmission of the virus is relatively rare, it's still possible to contract the virus through unprotected sex. This is especially true if you have multiple partners or if you're involved in high-risk sexual activity.
If you've been cured of hepatitis c, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of reinfection:
- Get vaccinated: While there is no vaccine for hepatitis c, there are vaccines available for hepatitis a and b. Getting vaccinated against these viruses can help to reduce your risk of exposure to the hepatitis c virus.
- Practice safe sex: If you're sexually active, it's important to practice safe sex. This means using condoms or other forms of protection when engaging in sexual activity.
- Avoid alcohol: Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of liver damage and make you more susceptible to the virus. If you're cured of hepatitis c, it's important to avoid drinking alcohol.
- Don't share needles: If you use injection drugs, it's important to never share needles. This is one of the most common causes of hepatitis c.
- Be careful with blood donation: If you donate blood, be sure to let the staff know that you've had hepatitis c.
By living a healthy lifestyle with plenty of awareness, you can help to prevent reinfection after being cured of hepatitis c.
Visit a Judgment-Free Online Hep C Doctor Near You
If you live in Pennsylvania or Ohio and have been diagnosed with hepatitis c, can help you receive treatment from the comfort of your own home. Whether you've had hep c before or it's your first positive diagnosis, we'll connect you with a compassionate, competent hep c specialist who can help you choose the right treatment.