Potential Outcomes of Treatment
In order to adequately monitor your response to treatment, you’ll need to visit your healthcare provider so he or she can examine you in person and discuss how you’re feeling. The level of Hepatitis C virus in your bloodstream will be checked to monitor your response to treatment. The potential outcomes of treatment are the following:
- Sustained virologic response (SVR): You are considered cured if the Hepatitis C virus is not detected when measured with a blood test three months after you’ve completed treatment. This is called a sustained virologic response and data suggest that you will stay virus free indefinitely.
- 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 on treatment, but then is detectable again, either during treatment or after treatment is stopped.
- Incomplete treatment: Treatment ended earlier that the prescribed duration.
The goal of treatment is to have an SVR. This is when you are considered cured. Taking your medication as prescribed will increase your chance of being cured and decrease the long-term complications of Hepatitis C.
Keeping your medical appointments, taking every dose of your Hepatitis C medicine, and getting the necessary lab tests are the keys 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.
Something you should keep in mind is that even if you are cured, it’s still possible for you to become infected again – called reinfection – if you are re-exposed to the virus. Having Hepatitis C once doesn’t make you immune from getting it again. The best way to avoid reinfection is not to engage in risky behaviors: Do not use injection drugs, do not share needles, and use condoms if you are sexually active with a new partner or with a partner who has used injection drugs. Preventing re-exposure to the Hepatitis C virus by avoiding blood-to-blood contact is the only sure way of avoiding reinfection.
This page has been updated and medically reviewed September 2015.