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Have you recently contracted hepatitis C and are wondering, “Can hepatitis C return after treatment?” Viral infections like hepatitis C can be scary, but they are not uncommon and are typically highly treatable. Thanks to advancements in medical research and same-day STD testing, you can spot the warning signs early and get the treatment you need and move on with life.
The question is, is an STD coming back after treatment possible? Specifically, is it possible with hepatitis C when acquired through sexual activity?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Medications can help treat symptoms, but there still remains a small likelihood of reinfection.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the hepatitis C virus and find answers to frequently asked questions like the following:
Hepatitis C is a viral infection resulting from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). While some patients with hepatitis C experience symptoms and seek treatment during its early stages, many don’t even know they contracted the virus because hepatitis C symptoms can take years to appear. That said, you should get a rapid STD test from Rapid STD Testing if you notice any of the following symptoms:
Hepatitis C can either be acute or chronic. In other words, it could be a one-time infection that goes away after proper treatment and antiviral therapy. However, many people suffer from chronic infection and face a lifelong struggle with liver failure and life-threatening health problems.
Understanding how hepatitis C spreads can help protect yourself from infection and prevent it from passing to someone else. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, meaning it travels from one person to the next via contaminated blood. Transmission of hepatitis C typically involves one of the following:
As with many other diseases and medical conditions, several myths surround the hepatitis C virus. Here are some popular claims you may hear that are actually false:
Can hepatitis C return after treatment? Is hepatitis C contagious after being cured?
Hepatitis C reinfection is possible after undergoing successful treatment and seeing symptoms disappear. Even if antiviral medications have technically cured you and HCV no longer shows up on a blood test, that doesn’t mean your body is immune to infection.
A few decades ago, the only way to treat hepatitis C involved using interferon, which cured less than 10% of patients and often came with severe side effects. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a group of drugs called direct-acting antivirals (DAA) to help treat HCV. This group of medications includes the following:
A 2019 study shows that DAA medications can effectively treat and cure HCV in over 95% of patients. You can take these antiviral drugs orally and see noticeable improvements in just weeks, being totally cured in about four months. Again, though, that does not guarantee you will never get the virus if exposed in the future.
DAAs help your body develop antibodies and block the proteins that allow the hepatitis C virus to grow. However, there is a 1% chance the virus may return after you stop treatment and expose yourself to contaminated blood via unsterilized medical equipment, reused needles, unscreened blood products, etc. Some people are more susceptible to HCV reinfection than others due to their lifestyle and decisions.
Sustained virological response (SVR) refers to testing negative for the hepatitis C virus after undergoing treatment. In medical terms, achieving a sustained virological response means the antiviral drugs were successful in curing you, and your blood test shows no sign of the virus.
Achieving SVR is the ultimate goal of taking direct-acting antiviral medications and seeking professional help to manage your symptoms. Up until the early 1990s, getting to that point as a hepatitis C patient was rare. Now, it’s not only possible but common.
You should never take viral infections lightly — that goes for hepatitis C, too. While the hepatitis C virus is highly treatable thanks to DAAs, it can still lead to significant health problems if left unaddressed for a long period of time. You’ll want to take a blood test and seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you may have contracted HCV.
Failing to treat hepatitis C over the span of several years may result in serious complications, such as the following:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over half of the people infected with the hepatitis C virus develop chronic infections.
If you’re wondering, “Can hepatitis C return after treatment?” you may also wonder, “What can I do to avoid getting hepatitis C again?”
Millions of people worldwide live with acute or chronic hepatitis C and will likely experience reinfection, even after successful treatment. Sometimes, reinfection is unavoidable; however, you can take several steps to minimize the chances of hepatitis C recurrence.
Here are a few practical ways to prevent infection and mitigate the spread of HCV:
Hepatitis C doesn’t come out of nowhere. You can stay safe and avoid HCV recurrence by taking practical steps and making responsible decisions.
Treating the hepatitis C virus involves taking certain types of medication for several weeks. In some cases, the patient’s body will be able to fight off the infection on its own and not require treatment. However, you should consider treatment if the infection persists for several months.
When treating acute hepatitis, doctors may recommend waiting to see if your body successfully fights off the virus before starting treatment. You might take an initial blood test and then another one after a few weeks to check on the progress. If the infection continues, it becomes chronic hepatitis and should not go untreated.
Treatment for hepatitis C may differ slightly from patient to patient. For the most part, though, here’s what you can expect when treating HCV infection:
DAA tablets are easy to take and come with little to no side effects. Some patients report feeling under the weather and having difficulty sleeping during early treatment regimens, but these side effects soon dissipate. If you encounter problems with any of your medications, stop taking them and speak with your doctor right away.
Can hepatitis C return after treatment, even if the medications work and you achieve SVR? The short answer is yes, you can still get hepatitis C after undergoing treatment. However, making good decisions and certain lifestyle changes can help prevent HCV reinfection.
At Rapid STD Testing, we have the resources you need to stay informed about your sexual health. Our noninvasive testing options value your privacy and help detect sexually transmitted diseases or infections early. Visit a testing center near you to get started with a 10-panel STD test today.