If you complete the process of the Hep C interferon treatment, is it true that the virus is only in remission? I was explained that the virus never leaves your body but that the treatment will put it into remission. That this protocol isnt 100% cureable because this is in the blood. Whic is correct. My mother has Hep C and is in the 5th week of treatment and she is having a bad go of it. The side affects were explained to her and she believes the Doctors office misled her.
Not everyone who treats is cured. The cure rate is high, but there are still some people who do the treatment and for them, it does not work. These people will be able to treat again at some point in the future and hopefully they will be cured at that time. I am just pointing this out because treatment is not yet 100% successful and it does not cure everyone.
You don't say which treatment your mom is on. However, regardless of which treatment she is on, if your mom completes the recommended treatment for her Genotype, and IF she attains what is called Sustained Viral Response (SVR), then she is cured. If she attains SVR/cure, then the virus is gone. She would no longer have the virus in her body. Therefore, the disease would not be in remission, it would be gone and she would be cured.
She would still carry the antibodies, but antibodies are not the same as having the disease. When the body gets a disease like Hepatitis C, the body produces antibodies to it. The antibodies are not virus particles. They are produced because the body is responding to being attacked by the virus. So, even though she will always carry the antibodies to Hep C, she will not have the disease/the virus itself and it cannot become reactivated if she is cured/attains SVR.
As far as the side effects go, many doctors downplay the side effects and do not really prepare the patient for the side effects that they get from the medications. There are drugs that will help alleviate many of the side effects and the doctor be aware of these and offer them to your mother. If you post the side effects she is having, we can tell you what may help alleviate the side effects. Keep in ind that some cannot be alleviated (fatigue, no motivation, no energy, etc.) but others like nausea or vomiting, rectal problems, aches and pains, headaches, rash, itching, low blood counts, psychological problems, can be treated. So post which side effects she is having and we will do out best to offer solutions.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Unlike other chronic infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, people with hepatitis C can be cured of the virus. This means that drug therapy can remove hepatitis C from a person’s blood so that it cannot be detected even when using very sensitive tests. Sustained virological response, or SVR – also known as viral cure – occurs when a person’s hepatitis C remains undetectable six months after treatment ends. Achieving a viral cure is important because it may reduce the risk a person has of developing liver failure and liver cancer, as well as other problems related to hepatitis C.
Viral cure is the ultimate goal of hepatitis C therapy
Hate to rain on everyone's parade but successful treatment of HCV is exactly as stated 'Sustained Viral Response'. Not a remission but not a cure. See- Journal of Virology (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC415836) to read a study of 16 HCV SVR patients (5 spontaneous and by 11 treatment). Though all patients were undetectable by PCR, this study used very finite detection methods and found HCV with evidence of replication in all subjects. But on the brighter and more practical side- my doc explained it as 'yes, once SVR is achieved HCV seems to be still there and active at the most minute levels but it is no longer able to inflict damage or increase in quantity. That is why you see liver biopsies improve a full grade over 4 to 6 years, why SVT seems permanent even as patients age and why even those who have SVT prior to transplant remain PCR undetectable in spite of immunosuppressive therapy.' So in short SVR is simply SVR and not a cure..think of it as chicken pox that doesn't ever seem to become shingles.
Everyone is throwing around cure all the time while when I treated the Liver Center was very careful on how they used that "c" word... always reminding me that the current blood test were not sensitive enough but all together they would know if I had reached SVR.
If it looks like a duck and acts like a duck and sounds like a duck, it might as well be called a duck. SVR may not meet some very esoteric definition of cure, but for all practical purposes it is a cure - at least that is my personal take on it. It certainly isn't what we normally think of as remission - where the disease might suddenly return at some unknown point in the future.
"That this protocol isnt 100% cureable because this is in the blood."
Which treatment protocol is your mother following?
What is her genotype and which meds is she taking.
Just to split hairs for a moment here, while I understand I agree with what has been said (SVR means 'cure') I agree that a particular treatment protocol might not be "100% cured. There are different rates of SVR for different treatment regimens.
I know you did not really ask all this but if you are curious and since you are on line maybe you could post your mothers Genotype and stage of fibrosis and the meds she is taking the people on here might be able to give you an idea of what your mother has to look forward to. Some of the side effects are manageable with the right intervention and she may not have to be as miserable as it sounds like she is.
Did she have a viral load drawn on week 4? Week four can be a key indicator with how your mother is responding the meds based on certain treatment protocols.
"If it looks like a duck and acts like a duck and sounds like a duck, it might as well be called a duck. SVR may not meet some very esoteric definition of cure, but for all practical purposes it is a cure"
I agree with you on that but I think it's important to be careful with language and with facts.
But, on a piratical level I don't care what you call it - I'm elated to have achieved SVR and I am not at all worried about hepatitis c anymore.
Recurrence of HCV Infection in a Sustained Responder After Chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Successful Retreatment
THOMOPOULOS, K MD; GIANNAKOULAS, N C. MD; TSAMANDAS, C. MDΑ; MIMIDIS, K MD; FRAGOPANAGOU, E MD; PALLASOPOULOU, M MD; LAMPROPOULOU-KARATZA, CH MD
It is known that sustained virological response (SVR) in patients with chronic hepatitis C is associated with sustained elimination of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and that late relapse after SVR in HCV patients is doubtful. A 47-year-old man with chronic hepatitis C genotype 3, achieved SVR after combination treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirine for 6 months. Sixteen months later non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was diagnosed. After successful completion of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, he presented with HCV infection recurrence of the same genotype. Retreatment with the same schedule resulted in normalization of aminotransferases and disappearance of HCVRNA from the serum. This case suggests that recurrence of HCV infection in a sustained responder may be probable after immunosuppressive therapy. Prevention is currently impossible but retreatment may be successful.
J Med Case Reports. 2007; 1: 169.
Published online 2007 December 4. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-1-169
Recurrence of hepatitis C virus during leucocytopenia and spontaneous clearance after recovery from cytopenia: a case report
Discussion and conclusion
"....Anti-HCV positive patients without HCV-RNA (>6 months) are considered cured of hepatitis C. These patients have either cleared the virus spontaneously or after treatment. It is generally believed that hepatitis C virus is not completely eliminated from the body but is under control of the immune system. HCV-RNA has been reported to be present in the liver and peripheral blood mononuclear cells [3-5] of patients with no detectable serum HCV-RNA. The clinical relevance of this phenomenon is unclear. Chemotherapy has been shown to increase serum transaminase concentrations in HCV-RNA positive patients, an increase thought to be due to immunosuppression . To date, however, only one case report has described HCV RNA recurrence after chemotherapy . Our case shows the risk of HCV recurrence due to leucocytopenia caused by reasons other than chemotherapy. Patients positive for anti-HCV antibodies but negative for HCV-RNA are therefore at risk of HCV reactivation due to cytopenia. Our findings also emphasize the importance of virus specific T cell responses in viral diseases. Thus, HCV recurrence should be considered in the differential diagnosis of anti-HCV positive patients who experience cytopenia.
In summary, our findings indicate that greater attention should be paid to liver function tests, not only in patients chronically infected with HCV but in HCV-RNA negative patients with a previous history of hepatitis C virus infection...."
I thought I saw that study and another like it used in a article that demonstrated late relapse. It said it was difficult to differentiate since some of those studies did not not use detailed viral molecular analysis. Plus the conclusion itself says, It is generally believed that hepatitis C virus is not completely eliminated from the body.
I do not believe that you will find anything definitive on this issue. I have been interested in this issue for years and I still am not certain about it.
If I had to bet I would bet that SVR does not necessarily mean complete viral eradication. I also question the likelihood or possibility of HCV recurrence in an SVR patient exposed to typical doses of immunosuppressive drugs. I am SVR and am on a daily immunosuppressive drug due to my liver transplant in June 2000. I have been SVR since June 2004 and have never had any sign of recurrence and I test yearly.
Having said that, I would not be comfortable taking the very high dose of Solu-Medrol (methylprednisolone sodium succinate - basically prednisone for injection) that I was given in 2001 to counteract an episode of acute organ rejection. The dose was 1 gram injected intravenously within about 1/2 hour. That essentially flattened my immune system/response. If there is still any viral activity (albeit at very low levels) and if it is controlled or held in check by my immune system then I would be worried that shutting down my immune system like that might trigger a recurrence. I know back in 2004 after my SVR when I asked my transplant surgeon/hepatologists whether they thought a dose of prednisone like that could trigger a recurrence they were not comfortable at all with that scenario. Of course, that was a long time ago and perhaps they feel differently now.
You can get a vaccine for shingles. It is not 100% preventative, but it reduces your chance of getting shingles considerably.
As we age, our chances of getting shingles increases. It is advisable to get the vaccine. I got it and I am glad I did.
I had shingles in 1994 when I was on steroids for systemic vasculitits. Because I recognized it right away and my doctor treated it immediately, I had a mild case. However, even mild cases are very painful while one has them. And I would absolutely dread having a bad case of shingles, which can cause lasting nerve pain in some individuals.
As we age, we have a much greater chance of developing Post Herpatic Neuralgia (nerve pain after having shingles). The pain can be very debilitating. Here is a link to another article which discusses Post Herpetic Neuralgia.
"The most common complication of shingles is a condition called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). People with PHN have severe pain in the areas where they had the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up.
The pain from PHN may be severe and debilitating, but it usually resolves in a few weeks or months in most patients. PHN can, however, persists for many years in some persons.
As people get older, they are more likely to develop PHN, and the pain is more likely to be severe. PHN occurs rarely among people under 40 years of age but can occur in up to half (and possibly more) of untreated people who are 60 years of age and older.
Shingles may lead to serious complications involving the eye. Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death."
Many insurance companies do cover the shingles vaccine.
Thanks for posting the link to the studies! As for the shingles vaccine - DO IT! My mother had one of the really bad cases, with horrible pain covering one side of her face completely, including that eye and ear, and the pain was really severe for 6 months but never went away completely for the rest of her life. It also caused total blindness in that eye for several months, with the vision only gradually returning most, but not all, of the way. It convinced everyone who knew her that shingles is not a risk to take lightly.
"As for the shingles vaccine - DO IT!"
I agree. I had a friend who got shingles when she was in her late 30s. The acute blistering phase eventually cleared up, but she was left with debilitating back pain for the rest of her life. My brother-in-law had shingles last Sept. and he still has a big open sore on his back which won't close up. In addition, he has debilitating back pain which is constant. He has to take pain medication all of the time for the pain but it does not entirely relieve the pain.
Do be sure to ask them. I had a very mild case at about age 52 (I'm now 59), and my doctor spent a little time considering whether I needed a vaccination or not, but finally decided yes, I should have one at age 60. For a little perspective: this is a doctor to whom I pay an annual retainer fee, and all vaccinations and regular office visits and many tests all then covered by her office, at no additional expense to me, so she has added incentive to choose the option that will really keep me healthiest. That, plus she is the smartest and most well-read doctor I've EVER encountered. I totally trust her judgement.
I have had shingles twice, once in 1994 and once in 2005. I got the vaccine in 2011. My doctor at that time, who I have since replaced with a more knowledgeable doctor, tried to talk me out of getting the vaccine, but he knew very little about anything and never wanted to treat anything either. Since then he has been busy trying to discourage his Baby Boomer patients from getting tested for Hepatitis C, even those who had blood transfusions before 1992. Kind of says it all, LOL.
I've loved mine right on through MANY sicknesses - I've been seeing her since 1987, when I think she was almost fresh out of medical school. It was a difficult time when she decided in 2001 that she could no longer continue dealing with the contradictions of wanting to spend adequate time with each patient, wanting to spend time keeping up with current research, and needing to make a living at the same time. She choose a path that eliminated insurance companies and cut the number of patients in her practice dramatically, with a lottery to decide who got to stay and who got a list of carefully vetted referrals. We aren't rich and it is financially a bit of a strain for us but the quality of care is so good that I'm always wishing everyone could get such care, and taking every opportunity to rave about this system. Of course, it is only going to work so well with the right doctor.
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