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Effect of Life Style Changes on Viral Load?

My husband donated blood for the first time last year and was diagnosed with Hep C. He has genotype 1, a viral load of 1.5 million and the liver biopsy showed only minimal damage. He is in good health otherwise and has not suffered from the disease.

We've had 2 medical opinions: 1 doctor basically recommended doing nothing as the disease doesn't seem to be causing problems (for now) and because of the side effects of the treatment. The other was more aggressive and said why not try the treatment.

After lots of thinking and different appointments we've ended up being recommended for a clinical trial run by Medtronic. Over the last 8 months though we've cut out alcohol, eaten a mostly vegan diet, drunk more water, and done more exercise. The baseline tests last week showed the virus has dropped to under 500,000 and the clinic was very surpised and asked about our life style changes.

Has anyone seen a change in viral load due to life style changes? It seems to me that his body is dealing with the virus itself - perhaps the health changes improved the immune system? Is it still worth going forward with the treatment? We have 2 weeks to decide to start the trial...........any comments would be helpful.

7 Responses
179856 tn?1333550962
The viral load doesn't really mean too much except when you are using it to monitor how much it goes down (or not) during treatment.  Although it's supposed to be better for chances of success to start with a lower viral load some folks like me found it harder for some reason but I made it in the end.

The numbers that would be more applicable to you with the life style would be the liver enzyme numbers........AST and ALT on his CBC blood tests.  The higher the number the more cell death is going on as a liver cell releases and enzyme when it dies.....

All the things he is doing are NOT hurting his liver and that is the goal no matter what you decide.

I don't know what Medtronic is but I would advise you only to follow any trial that is run by qualified heptologists - and no one else.  Tonics, water, supplements etc etc will NOT cure anyone of the virus. The only thing that can are interferon and ribavirin and in some cases in trial adding a protease inhibitor to them.  If that is what you are talking about then - that's cool.

1051313 tn?1284784395
Your husband sounds just like I did, same diagnosis, results , etc. . I also did a lifestyle change and saw my viral load go down.  But my Dr. also said that although that was good.  It fluctuates. Bottom line, the virus is still there.  The biopsy is the best indicator of the damage it's caused.
I have a mentality  of being as healthy and strong as possible, give my body a chance.
I decided to go into treatment, with that in mind.
Best wishes.
96938 tn?1189803458
I think that the trial that Angie references is the Interferon infusion pump that was discussed in a prior thread.  The pump delivers Alpha 2B continuously, with a side of riba.
9648 tn?1290094807
Medtronic makes medical devices like my pacemaker.
Avatar universal
The minimum reduction reduction in viral load which may be regarded as as even marginally significant in .5 log.
Your husbands drop is .48 log.
This is not an indicator that you are 'beating the disrase;.
It is still there and will very likely jump up again at the next test.
I have tested as low as 40000 and seen it jump back up.
This variation is not a reason to defer treatment if you had already decided to go ahead.
If this particular trial is the best treatment option is another matter and not part of this discussion
971268 tn?1253204399
I agree with everyone about the viral load issue, but if I were in this situation, I had decent insurance, and I knew the damage to my liver was minimal, my choice would be to wait until the new drugs, Telaprevir and Boceprevir (protease inhibitors), are approved and treat with them.

They are likely to be available in 2011 and they may shorten treatment duration and provide a better chance to clear the virus.

However, some people can't stand to wait and just want to treat ASAP.  
412873 tn?1329178055
I saw small a drop in my VL prior to tx due to lifestyle changes.  But like the others have stated, it fluctuates and is not an indication of liver damage.

I can only answer based on my experience.....I treated (geno 1a, biopsy 1/0) in a Vertex trial.  My thoughts were that I wanted to get rid of the virus before I got sick and I had a chance of getting a promising new drug.

My daughter is also geno 1a 1/0 and has a VL of 400,000....she will tx as soon as the new drugs come out because being young and having a low VL should increase her chances of success--the new drugs will cement that chance.

Looking back, I wish I had waited the few extra weeks to get into a no-placebo trial with the same drug...but I was in the mindset WriteItDown stated above....GET IT OUT OF ME!!!!

I would say be very careful when chosing any trial.  Will you be getting SOC? What phase is it?  New drugs will be out soon if you have time to wait.  It may be worth doing a trial if you are getting one of the more promising ones.  I guess my rambling is to just say.....do your research...lots of it. Ask questions...lots of them.

I wish you the best.  Please keep us posted.

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