Low Vs High Viral Load
A low viral load means a person has low levels of HCV in their blood, while a high viral load indicates higher levels of the virus present.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, healthcare professionals usually define a low viral load as less than 800,000 international units per liter . In contrast, a high viral load is more than 800,000 IU/L.
This measure can be in the millions a result of more than 100,000,000 international units per milliliter indicates an active HCV infection.
In contrast, a result of less than 15 IU/mL shows that HCV is present, but the level is not measurable. This may mean HCV is undetectable, or levels of HCV are too low to show on the test. People may require a follow-up test 12 months later to track any changes in these levels.
If a result is inconclusive, the test was not successful in measuring viral load, and people need to take another test.
If a result comes back as undetected, it means the test found no HCV is present.
The viral load can change depending on the treatment. If people have an increasing viral load, it may mean the treatment is not targeting the virus effectively. If they have a decreasing viral load, it may mean that the treatment is working.
Treatment for hepatitis C is highly effective for low and high viral loads. If individuals have an undetected viral load 12 weeks after completing treatment for hepatitis C, they no longer have the infection.
People will need regular testing if they:
Stages Of Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus affects people in different ways and has several stages:
- Incubation period. This is the time between first exposure to the start of the disease. It can last anywhere from 14 to 80 days, but the average is 45
- Acute hepatitis C. This is a short-term illness that lasts for the first 6 months after the virus enters your body. After that, some people who have it will get rid of, or clear, the virus on their own.
- Chronic hepatitis C. For most people who get hepatitis C — up to 85% — the illness moves into a long-lasting stage . This is called a chronic hepatitis C infection and can lead to serious health problems like liver cancer or cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis. This disease leads to inflammation that, over time, replaces your healthy liver cells with scar tissue. It usually takes about 20 to 30 years for this to happen, though it can be faster if you drink alcohol or have HIV.
- Liver cancer. Cirrhosis makes liver cancer more likely. Your doctor will make sure you get regular tests because there are usually no symptoms in the early stages.
Learn more about the stages and progression of hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C Antibody Test
Certain foreign substances that enter your body trigger your immune system to make antibodies. Antibodies are specifically programmed to only target the foreign substance they were made to fight.
If youve ever had a hepatitis C infection, your body will make hepatitis C antibodies as part of its immune response.
Your body only makes these antibodies if you have hepatitis C or had it in the past. So the hepatitis C antibody test can confirm whether you have the virus by testing for these specific antibodies.
If the antibody test is positive, an HCV RNA test can show whether the infection is current.
While people of any gender experience the same hepatitis C symptoms, 2014 research suggested some effects of the virus may differ, depending on the sex you were assigned at birth.
Researchers noted that:
- women have a higher chance of clearing the virus without treatment
- liver disease may progress more rapidly in men
- men have a higher chance of developing cirrhosis
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How Many People Have Hepatitis C
During 2013-2016 it was estimated that about two and half million people were chronically infected with HCV in the United States. The actual number may be as low as 2.0 million or as high as 2.8 million.Globally, hepatitis C is a common blood-borne infection with an estimated 71 million people chronically infected according to the World Health Organization .
Acute Hepatitis C Vs Chronic Hepatitis C
Acute and chronic hepatitis C are caused by the same virus.
Acute hepatitis C develops after initial infection with the HCV. This stage can last up to 6 months. Many people have no symptoms during the acute stage and never find out that they have the infection.
According to the CDC, of people with acute hepatitis C develop chronic hepatitis C.
The World Health Organization states that 15 to 45 percent of people with acute hepatitis C spontaneously clear the virus within 6 months. This means that the virus goes away even though it hasnt been treated.
The 55 to 85 percent of people who dont clear the virus will develop a chronic HCV infection.
Chronic hepatitis C can be managed with medications and even cured, but its still a serious condition. According to the CDC,
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Prevention Of Acute Hepatitis C
Patients should be advised to avoid high-risk behavior .
Blood and other body fluids are considered infectious. Risk of infection after a single needlestick exposure is about 1.8%. Barrier protection is recommended, but isolation of patients is of no value in preventing acute hepatitis C.
Risk of transmission from HCV-infected medical personnel appears to be low, and there are no CDC recommendations to restrict health care workers with hepatitis C infection.
Posttransfusion infection is minimized by avoiding unnecessary transfusions and screening all donors for hepatitis B and C. Screening has decreased the incidence of posttransfusion hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which are now extremely rare in the US.
No product exists for immunoprophylaxis of HCV. The propensity of HCV for changing its genome hampers vaccine development.
Preexposure or postexposure prophylaxis with antiviral therapy is not recommended.
Hiv And Hepatitis C Coinfection
HCV infection is common among people with HIV who also inject drugs. Nearly 75% of people living with HIV who report a history of injection drug use are co-infected with HCV. All people who are diagnosed with HIV are recommended to be tested for HCV at least once. People living with HIV are at greater risk for complications and death from HCV infection. Fortunately, direct acting antivirals that are used to treat HCV work equally well in people with and without HIV infection. For more information about HIV and HCV coinfection, visit the HIV.govs pages about hepatitis C and HIV coinfection.
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Possible Complications Of Hepatitis C
Theres one main complication of acute hepatitis C: It could become chronic.
- Cirrhosis. With cirrhosis, scar tissue gradually replaces healthy tissue in your liver, blocking blood flow and disrupting liver function. Cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure.
- Liver cancer. Having chronic hepatitis C raises your risk for eventually developing liver cancer. If you develop cirrhosis or your liver is very damaged before treatment, youll still have a higher risk for cancer after getting treated.
- Liver failure. It takes a long time for your liver to fail. Liver failure, or end-stage liver disease, happens slowly over months, often years. When your liver becomes unable to function properly, youll need a transplant.
If you believe you contracted the hepatitis C virus, a good next step involves reaching out to a healthcare professional. Getting timely treatment can lower your risk for experiencing serious complications.
The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner your healthcare professional can start a treatment plan.
Currently, the best way to protect yourself from the hepatitis C virus is to avoid using any items that may have come into contact with someone elses blood.
You can do this by:
Diagnosis Of Hepatitis C
If you are at risk of hepatitis C infection, or think you may have been exposed to hepatitis C in the past, see your doctor for an assessment of your liver health. This will include blood tests and possibly a non-invasive test for liver damage .
There are 2 blood tests used to diagnose hepatitis C. Usually these can be done at the same time but sometimes they will be done separately.
The first test known as a hepatitis C antibody test can tell you whether you have ever been exposed to hepatitis C.
It may take 2 to 3 months from the time of infection until a blood test can detect antibodies to hepatitis C, so there is a window period during which you cannot tell if you are or have been infected. In this time, take precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
The second test is called hepatitis C PCR, which will be done if the antibody test is positive. This determines if the virus is still present in your blood or liver or if you have already cleared the infection.
If you have cleared the virus or had successful treatment to cure it, the PCR test will be negative.
A liver ultrasound or Fibroscan can also be performed to assess if you have any liver damage.
If your doctor is inexperienced in diagnosing hepatitis C you can call the LiverLine on for information, and to find a GP who can help you.
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Could I Give Hepatitis C To Someone Else
Yes, once you have hepatitis C, you can always give it to someone else. If you have hepatitis C, you cannot donate blood. You should avoid sharing personal items like razors and toothbrushes. It is very rare to pass hepatitis C in these ways, but it can happen. Always use a condom when you have sex. If you have hepatitis C, your sexual partners should be tested to see if they also have it.
Talk to your doctor first if you want to have children. The virus isnt spread easily from a mother to her unborn baby. But it is possible, so you need to take precautions. However, if youre trying to have a baby, do not have sex during your menstrual cycle. The hepatitis C virus spreads more easily in menstrual blood.
Detection Of Antibody Production
In general, serological tests for detecting anti-HCV antibodies include tests for screening and confirmation. Screening tests are used first to screen the antibody positive specimens while confirmatory tests are then used to verify the positive screening specimens.
Screening test: The rapid, point-of-care test: Point-of-care tests are used directly at the site of patient care, outside of the diagnostic laboratory. Several point-of-care tests have been developed to detect anti-HCV antibodies with a relatively high sensitivity and specificity. The test currently approved by the FDA in 2010 is the OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test . It is approved for use in patients over 15 years old, for screening persons who are considered at risk for HCV infection. This test detects anti-HCV antibodies in different specimens, e.g., fingerstick and venipuncture whole blood, serum, plasma, or oral fluid. Recombinant proteins or synthetic peptides of core, NS3 and NS4 antigens are immobilized on a nitrocellulose membrane to perform an indirect lateral flow immunoassay, and the results are directly visualized using colloidal gold labeled protein A, which generates a reddish-purple line within 20 to 40 min in the presence of anti-HCV antibodies in the specimens. These rapid tests are suitable for resource-limited settings because they are cheap, simple to perform and fast.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Drug Treatment
Common side effects for some treatments for hepatitis C may include the following:
Side effects are usually worst during the first few weeks of treatment. They become less severe over time. If you are having trouble dealing with the side effects of your medicine, talk to your doctor. He or she can suggest ways to relieve some of the side effects. For example, if your medicine makes you feel nauseated, it may help to take it right before you go to sleep.
Why Is The Viral Load Test Important
Viral load testing is important because it shows whether someone has an active hepatitis C infection or not. People can have antibodies in their blood from previous exposure to hepatitis C, but they may not have an active infection.
Viral load also shows the amount of the virus in the bloodstream. This can help indicate the effectiveness of treatments in reducing the virus by comparing viral load before, during, and after hepatitis C treatment.
However, the viral load does not indicate the condition of the liver people will need liver function tests to assess any damage to the liver.
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What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C is with antiviral medicines. They can cure the disease in most cases.
If you have acute hepatitis C, your health care provider may wait to see if your infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
If your hepatitis C causes cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Treatments for health problems related to cirrhosis include medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If your hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
Examples Of Hepatitis C In A Sentence
hepatitis C USA TODAYhepatitis C CNNhepatitis C Quartzhepatitis C oregonlivehepatitis C NBC NewsThe New Republichepatitis C hepatitis C Vulture
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘hepatitis C.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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Viral Attachment Entry And Fusion
Viral entry into the host cell involves a complex series of interactions including attachment, entry and fusion. The initial viral attachment to its receptor/co-receptors may involve HVR1 in HCV E235,36 with facilitation by heparan sulfate proteoglycans expressed on hepatocyte surface.37–40 While LDL receptors can bind HCV and promote its cellular entry,41 HCV-LDLR interaction may be non-productive and can potentially lead to viral particle degradation.40 Following attachment to the entry factors, HCV is internalized into the target cells via a pH-dependent and clathrin-mediated endocytosis.42–45
Multiple cellular receptors and entry factors for HCV have been identified, including the scavenger receptor class B type I ,46 and CD8147 as well as tight junction proteins, claudin-1 48 and occludin .49,50 Additional recently identified entry factors include the receptor tyrosine kinases epidermal growth factor receptor , ephrin receptor A2 51 and Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 cholesterol absorption receptor .52 The various entry factors are briefly described below:
Scavenger receptor class B type I
The tight junction proteins Claudin 1 and Occludin
Receptor tyrosine kinases and Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 cholesterol absorption receptor
Collectively, these receptors and entry factors provide potential avenues to prevent HCV infection and spread, provided that modulation of their physiological role does not lead to significant toxicity.
How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted
Because HCV is primarily spread through contact with infected blood, people who inject drugs are at increased risk for HCV infection. HCV can also be transmitted from an infected mother to child at the time of birth, from unregulated tattoos or body piercings, and from sharing personal items that may be contaminated with infected blood, even in amounts too small to see. Much less often, HCV transmission occurs through sexual contact with an HCV-infected partner, especially among people with multiple sex partners and men who have sex with men. Currently in the United States, health care related transmission of HCV is rare, but people can become infected from accidental needle sticks and from breaches in infection control practices in health care facilities.
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General Properties Of Hcv Rna And Proteins
Viral genomic RNA: The HCV genomic RNA contains three distinct regions: a 5UTR or non-coding region a long open reading frame of more than 9000 nucleotides and a short 3UTR.
The HCV 5UTR contains 341 nt located upstream of the ORF translation initiation codon. The 5UTR contains the internal ribosomal entry site which forms a stable pre-initiation complex by direct binding with the 40S ribosomal subunit for the HCV polyprotein translation.
The long ORF encodes a polyprotein of approximately 3000 amino acids, which will be further processed by host and viral proteases.
The 3UTR is principally involved in minus-strand priming during HCV replication.
The nucleotide sequence variability is distributed throughout the entire viral genome. The 5UTR is the most conserved region in the genome while the regions encoding envelope proteins are the most variable ones. Thus, the highly conserved 5UTR region is usually the target of choice for HCV genome detection across different genotypes .
Hepatitis C virus NS5B acts as RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and plays an important role in the synthesis of new RNA genomes. As the central component of the hepatitis C virus replication complex, NS5B has emerged as a major target for antiviral treatment. New direct acting antivirals, specifically designed to inhibit the NS5B are now becoming available .
Cost Of Hepatitis C Medicines
The newer direct-acting antiviral medicines for hepatitis C can be costly. Most government and private health insurance prescription drug plans provide some coverage for these medicines. Talk with your doctor about your health insurance coverage for hepatitis C medicines.
Drug companies, nonprofit organizations, and some states offer programs that can help pay for hepatitis C medicines. If you need help paying for medicines, talk with your doctor. Learn more about financial help for hepatitis C medicines.
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