Appointments and Lab Work
In order to adequately monitor your response to treatment, you’ll need to visit your doctor often so he or she can examine you in person and discuss how you’re feeling. In addition, you’ll need to get many blood tests during treatment and for six months after it ends. It’s a good idea to get a schedule of visits and tests when just beginning therapy so you can plan accordingly.
The level of Hepatitis C in your bloodstream will be checked to monitor your response to treatment. There are three main ways your body can respond:
- Sustained virologic response (SVR): The Hepatitis C virus becomes undetectable at some point during treatment and remains undetectable for six months after treatment is stopped.
- Nonresponse: The Hepatitis C virus does not become undetectable as a result of treatment. This can be further categorized as partial response, when the viral levels become lower but not undetectable, or null-response which is when the viral level never drops significantly
- Relapse: The Hepatitis C virus becomes undetectable, but then is detectable again, either during treatment or after treatment is stopped.
If you have lower levels of virus in your blood before starting treatment, you have a better chance of getting rid of the virus. The goal of treatment is to have an SVR. This is when you are considered cured. Those patients who achieve SVR after treatment for Hepatitis C have a greater than 99% chance of remaining free of the infection.
Keeping all your medical appointments is key to maintaining your health, identifying and managing side effects, and monitoring your response to treatment. Communicating with your healthcare providers on a regular basis will help you promptly address side effects before they become problems.
Try to develop a relationship with all members of your healthcare team – nurses, case managers, pharmacists, etc. They are often the ones providing the ongoing education and support needed to help you proactively manage your disease and its treatment.