Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver. It can also be complicated and unpredictable, making it one of the trickier viruses to face. The liver is at a serious risk for damage, but with early treatment, this can be avoided. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve virus levels so low that it’s undetectable.
Known as a sustained virologic response, or SVR, this is the purpose of treatment. It’s also a major milestone! To understand how SVR works, get to know the science behind hepatitis C.
What Is Hepatitis C?
When the hepatitis C virus infects the liver, it causes inflammation and damage. Sometimes, the body can fight it off. This is a short-term acute infection that lasts for about 6 months.
And if the body can’t get rid of it? The result is chronic hepatitis C, a disease that affects 75 to 85% of people with acute hepatitis. If left untreated, it can snowball into cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, or chronic liver disease.1
Is Hepatitis C Common?
In America, hepatitis C is actually the most common chronic viral infection of the blood. About 2.7 to 3.9 million people have the chronic kind. Around the world, over 170 million people carry the virus.2 3
How Is It Transmitted?
The virus is transmitted through blood. The most common way is through needles and syringes, but it can also happen through sexual contact and tattooing. Sharing items like razors with an infected person may spread the virus, too. 4
What Are The Symptoms?
Roughly 75% of infected people don’t have any symptoms. If you have an acute infection, symptoms may show up within 1 to 3 months of exposure. Chronic infections, on the other hand, might not show up for decades.5
- Dark yellow urine
- Gray or clay stools
- Joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weak appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Yellow-tinted eyes and skin
Remember, not everyone has symptoms. However, the earlier you get tested, the sooner you can get treatment.6
What Does SVR Mean?
Sustained virologic response, or SVR, means that hepatitis C has been cured! This is defined as undetectable virus levels at least 12 weeks after finishing treatment. SVR is amazing news for the liver, It’ll have a brighter future, as it won’t be at risk for problems. Overall quality of life will also improve.7 8
How To Achieve SVR
Before 2014, the only treatments were weekly injections of interferon and ribavirin plus a cocktail of pills. Unfortunately, those injections had a lot of side effects. Today, hepatitis C can be treated entirely with antiviral pills that clear out the virus and protect the liver. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the following drugs are used for hepatitis C.
- Daclatasvir (Daklinza) + Sofosbuvir (Solvaldi)
- Elbasvir/Grazoprevir (Zepatier)
- Ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir + Dasabuvir (Viekira)
- Sofosbuvir (Solvaldi) + ribavirin
- Sofosbuvir/Ledipasvir (Harvoni)
- Sofosbuvir/Velpatasvir (Epclusa)
The combination of drugs will depend on your health status, age, and severity of the infection. Most treatments cure more than 90% of patients! This means the virus has been totally cleared and you can’t spread it to other people. To increase your chances, follow the doctor’s instructions carefully.9
How To Prevent Hepatitis C
While there isn’t a vaccine for hepatitis C, it’s possible to limit the risk of infection.
- Don’t share needles with anyone.
- If you work in a medical setting, be extra careful with needles.
- Only get tattooed or pierced at reputable shops.
- Don’t share items like razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers.
- Avoid unprotected sex unless you know the person’s history.
So there you have it, be aware of this infection and make sure to get proper medical treatment if you contract this infection before it is too late.
|↑1, ↑2, ↑6||Hepatitis C. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑3, ↑8||Morisco, Filomena, Rocco Granata, Tommaso Stroffolini, Maria Guarino, Laura Donnarumma, Laura Gaeta, Ilaria Loperto, Ivan Gentile, Francesco Auriemma, and Nicola Caporaso. “Sustained virological response: a milestone in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.” World journal of gastroenterology: WJG 19, no. 18 (2013): 2793.|
|↑4, ↑5||Hepatitis C. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑7, ↑9||Hepatitis C medications: A review and update for patients. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.|