After Treatment Ends
After you complete treatment for your Hepatitis C infection, you’ll still need to be followed by your healthcare provider. You will likely require blood tests and doctor visits three to six months post-treatment. If you have early stage fibrosis and your blood tests indicate that you’ve successfully cleared the virus at the three month mark, your liver specialist may discharge you to your primary care provider. If you have cirrhosis, your liver specialist will follow you over the long-term. He or she will give you a specific schedule and instructions depending on your individual circumstances. If you developed cirrhosis due to your Hepatitis C infection, you’ll likely be monitored with the following tests even if you cleared the infection:
- Blood tests to see how well your liver is working
- Imaging tests, like ultrasound, a CT (computerized tomography) scan, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), every 6-12 months to make sure you don’t have liver cancer.
- Upper endoscopy to look for varices (swollen vessels in the stomach or esophagus) which carry a risk of bleeding
One important thing to keep in mind after treatment ends is that you must continue to use two forms of birth control for six months following treatment with ribavirin. And if you were on one of the protease inhibitors (for example, Olysio), you cannot use hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, implants, rings or injections) because the protease inhibitors stop hormonal birth control from working well.
If you’ve completed treatment and it did not clear the virus from your blood, you may want to take a break, continue watchful waiting, and ask your doctor if being retreated is an option for you sometime in the future. This will depend on many things such as what drugs you’ve already been treated with, your general health, the results of your liver functions tests, biopsy and so forth. Keep in mind that even if the treatment didn’t completely get rid of the virus, it likely improved the overall health of your liver. You should continue to see your doctor every six months or more often if needed.
You’ll want to do your part to stay as healthy as possible by getting plenty of rest, eating well and not using alcohol or drugs that can further damage your liver. In addition, you can inquire about clinical trials for new Hepatitis C treatments.
It’s a very exciting and hopeful time for people with HCV as treatment is rapidly changing for the better. We are seeing increasing cure rates, shorter treatment options and have all-oral medication regimens for HCV genotypes 1, 2 and 3, which comprise most people with Hepatitis C in the United States; there are also all-oral options for HCV genotypes 4 and 6.
This page has been updated and medically reviewed April 2015.