When you first learn you have Hepatitis C youll want to better understand what it is. Your health care provider will tell you its an infection that causes the liver to become swollen and painful. Then youll begin to discuss what to do about it. How long does Hepatitis C treatment last? That may be the first question you ask your doctor as they begin to outline the treatment program for you.
The next question youll want an answer for is will it work. You will be disappointed when your health care provider tells you that there is no easy answer to either of those. To begin with it depends on which type of Hepatitis C you are suffering from.
Seventy percent of those infected, in the United States, with the Hepatitis C virus have type one, five percent suffer with type two and the remaining twenty percent have contracted type three. The reason this matters is because type one treatment can last up to a year whereas the others are currently having success in as little as three months.
The drugs taken, Interferon alone or accompanied by the antiviral drug Ribavirin, are injected once a week. At the end of the first treatment episode, three to six months depending on the type of Hepatitis C, testing will begin to see how effective the treatment has been.
This is determined by the levels of the virus in your blood, which is referred to as the viral load. This will be checked as will your liver. Dont be surprised if these tests are very similar, if not the same, as the ones that initially detected the Hepatitis C in your system.
Sustained Virologic Response
If these results show such a low viral load that the tests are unable to measure them then the health care provider will tell you the infection is undetectable. If it remains like that for a minimum of six months once your treatment has been completed then your physician will tell you that you have a sustained virologic response, also called a SVR. If that is the diagnosis then in most cases you can count on having no worrisome liver problems in your future health considerations. The treatment was a success!
If this is not the result you get from your tests then the treatments will continue. Your health care provider will want to suggest alternative treatments depending on what you have been using. If you were only taking Interferon, then treatments adding Ribavirin will be suggested. Even if the treatments dont look like a cure when the final results are in, at the very least diminishing the viral load will help to make you feel healthier and to control the liver disease.