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Hepatitis C Questions

Last week I went to get routine bloodwork done. Yesterday my Dr called and said I tested positive for hepatitis C. I basically went into shock. Back in February I needed surgery when I shattered my clavicle snowboarding and the other patient in the ambulance declared he was a former drug user. I'm not sure if I possibly picked it up there, if the EMT's weren't changing gloves when administering drugs or at the hospital. I called my ex boyfriend (who used to do steroids and cocaine and has been having liver issues for almost a year but never would get looked at) and the current person I am seeing (who travels frequently and I'm unsure of his sexual history, he now wants nothing to do with me and I'm worried I jumped the gun since it sounds like its not likely transferrable through sex but my Dr told me to tell partners). I am 25, do not do any drugs ever, rarely drink, eat healthy and am active. Now I don't know how to deal with this. I feel dirty and unclean. Its most likely I got it from my partners or the hospital but I am getting blamed for spreading it. My ex also refuses to get tested and that worries me because if he has it he can pass it around. I don't know what to do. My relationship is ruined and I dont know if I should leave it alone or try to talk to him, I'm terrified about my health or implications. Is there a way to tell how long you've had it? My blood work from a year ago was clean. I was told on a Friday evening and cannot even call my Dr to talk or meet with a specialist.
2 Responses
683231 tn?1467323017
You probably were not tested on the past. Hep c antibody testing is not routinely done. It is possible you have had it for a while there is now way to know.

Having a positive antibody test does not confirm current infection unless they also did a second test to confirm you are infected with the virus. Having Hep c  antibodies only means you may have been exposed in the past but about 25% of people are able to beat the virus in their own. They will test positive for antibodies but not detected on the HCV RNA by PCR test for the virus itself.

Have you had the HCV RNA test? If you have and you testified detected for the hep c virus they may also have told you your viral load. If you have tested positive for the virus you will need another test to determine your genotype of hep c which would be a number letter combination like 1a 1b 2a 2b etc....

You can today be treated for hep c and be cured the new medicines approved about 3 years ago are curing most with hep c.

A couple of comments about your boyfriend. He left you when the going got a little difficult so is that who you really need standing beside you someone who does not have your back who runs at the first sign of any trouble?

You are not dirty you have an illness nothing more. Would you feel dirty if you had cancer or heart disease?

If you are infected see your doctor, get treated, cure your hep c and find someone who truely has your back.

Maybe this is all a blessing in disguise to find out what kind of guy you were seeing. You are not the bad one he is.

Please  check back to let us know if you had the HCV RNA test and what your viral load and genotype are.

Good luck
8 Comments
Thank you so much for your advice and support.

My gyno Dr does yearly screening for STD's and blood work since I have PCOS and always includes Hep C testing which was negative last March. I don't believe that it can be dormant, at least not in the research I've done.

Today I went to my primary care Dr (different one) and she is doing the RNA test along with liver function and metabolic panel. I'm a little irritated my other Dr called me over the phone at closing and is not available all weekend. It seems like a pretty big bomb to drop on someone and then let them stew over the weekend.

I have never had any kind of STD and I know that hepatitis C is a blood disease, not an STD but that's not how my ex or current took it. I wish there was a way to pinpoint where or how I got it. I regret telling people right away since I should've waited to get another test but the first Dr made it seem like a huge deal that I needed to disclose ASAP. Since it's not primarily transferred through sexual activity I wish I had waited to find out final results. Hopefully I will have them within 4-5 days. I know a false positive is rare but I'm hoping I just have the antibodies and am not actually infected
I have read there are a few other rare causes of a false positive but not sure about the specifics about a crossed response to some other begins cause. Also there are those who were infected who beat the virus on their own about 25% as I said so really not that rare.

There are many people who formerly frequented this forum when hep c was more difficult to cure we were all chronic carriers until just a few years ago. Anyway no one who was in a relationship as a long term monogamous couple reported their spouse had hep c. Of course there is a small risk for those who are not in long term relationships who have sex with multiple partners, engage in rough sexual practices or in the presence of HIV. Not saying that is your situation just a more through response for those who may read this later. Not everyone understand that hep c in not in general considered to be an STD in fact it is an all too common misconseption.

Good luck on your follow in testing wishing you good results.  
So I received some results but am having trouble interpreting as my Dr is once again unavailable. My HCV log10 is 2.881, my HCV quantitative is 760 IU/mL, my ALT level is 60 and HCV Ab is 11. Do you know if any of this is severe?
Both numbers the HCV log 10 and HCV quantative describe your viral load. One is on the logarithmic scale which is a different number scale a way use to look at quantities of things. The other number is the same number expressed on the numbering scale we normally use. But anyway both numbers are the exact same number just expressed in different ways. So basically your viral load is 760 IU/mL (international units per milliliter of blood sample. For comparison my viral load before I treated was 2.4 million. So you have a very low viral load. However, viral load numbers don't mean much. What having any viral load mean is you are infected with the Hep C virus.

Most often in hep c you would look at your liver enzyme test scores both ALT and AST. On the scale my lab uses 32 is max normal for ALT. That is very common with hep c infection. Most people have elevated ALT and AST levels while infected with hep c. It only means something is bothering your liver in this case the hep c virus. Once you are cured this number will return to normal.

The last test is the hep c antibody test. It means either you were or are infected with the hep c virus. Hep C antibodies are made by you body when it tries to fight the hep c virus. Antibodies are not the virus they are a part of your bodies own immune system. If you have ever been exposed to the hep c virus you will have antibodies for the rest of your life. Just as if you were either vaccinated against the measles or had the measles you will test positive for measles antibodies.

Unfortunately, the antibodies our bodies make against hep c are not effective in fighting the virus like measles antibodies are. This is why most with hep c go on to be chronically infected and will need treatment to get rid of the hep c virus.

You do not need to take a hep c antibody test again you know what the result will be you will always test positive for hep c antibodies.
So I received my second round of blood work (the first was done by my first Dr) and my viral load and ALT levels have already begun increasing. Luckily I have an appointment with a specialist next week and I hope they will do treatment so that way I can be cured. I'm hoping my liver is also in good shape since I am not a drinker or drug user. My AST and metabolic panel are all normal, just  the ALT level. I know hep C can cause an increased risk for diabetes and I am already high risk since I have PCOS. Maybe that will encourage treatment.

I cannot thank you enough for all of your knowledge and support
Viral loads will vary quite a bit from day to day changes in viral load really don't mean anything. ALT varies often as well. How such of a rise?

Hep c takes decades of infection to cause liver damage if it ever does. Only about 20% of people infected for 20 years will develop signifigant liver damage. Meaning 80% of people will not.

I probably had hep c before I was diagnosed with cirrhosis over 9 years ago. Even with all that I am still fine.
My first levels were 760 for viral load and 60 for ALT and then 934 viral load and 72 for ALT. I've been reading there are other reasons ALT can spike but I definitely have the virus. Is viral load not an indication of how long you've had the disease?

My ex boyfriend luckily tested negative which makes me very happy for him. I have not heard from my most recent partner but thinking back on our conversation when I told him I am suspicious. When I told him about it his first thought was "I thought it wasnt transmitted via sex" and when I told him it wasnt common but could be if it was rough or blood particles he said "interesting". I just thought it was a little strange because even I initially believe it could be transmitted via sexual relations as do most people. Now I'm concerned he had it and never told me.

I meet with a specialist on Friday to discuss things. I wish there was a way to tell how long I've had this but I'm hoping I'm in the acute stage. I've also been doing research on natural supplements, not to cure, but do aid in liver health. Do you know anything about milk thistle and curcumin?
Hadn't heard of curcumin before looks interesting in improving liver damage. As far as milk thistle clinical trials have had mixed results and really nothing conclusive. I personally am not an advocate of any use of supplements basically not a believer.

In any event it is very unlikely you would have any liver damage so really no need to fix what is not broken. If you were like us with no options for effective treatments and infected for decades lots of us did try various herbal supplements. But really as you have likely not been infected for long and will be cured soon I really don't see any reason to waste your money on treatments of questionable effectiveness.

Viral load as I said really means little. Some people who were infected many years less than me had viral loads above 6 million while mine was steins 2 million even yhough I had been infected for 37 years. The viral load changes you list are entirely insignificant. My viral load changed from 2.0 million to 2.4 million between tests this is also not considered a signifigant change. You could have as much variation as your result between morning and afternoon.

If you were recently infected there is still a chance that you may be able to beat the virus with no treatment. About 25% of people do. But if you have been infected for more than 6 months that would mean you are chronically infected and will need to be treated. If your body has not beaten the virus within 6 months that is the definition of chronic infection. With that in mind your doctor may want to wait and see if you are able to beat the virus without treatment.

Generally when talking about rough sex we are talking about intentional blood letting like "blood sports" basically alt lifestyle sexual practices like BDSM. As one person I know likes to say as a joke transmission is  not likely unless there are chain saws involved  

There have been many people here who were infected for decades and one spouse had hep c and the other did not. Really sexual transmission is somewhat rare. I cannot speak to the conversation with your boyfriend and his reactions obviously.

I understand your wish to know how you got to where you are having hep c but what would that knowledge change? You would still have hep c and you cannot undue the past. Looking back is wasted energy. Now is the time to move forward to treating your infection so you can move forward with your life.


Best of luck to you and hoping you are one of the lucky 25%.
683231 tn?1467323017
Hi I found some information about false positive results for the hep c antibody test

https://www.hepmag.com/article/false-test-result-25760-476718382

Excerpt:

"False Positives:

A false positive occurs when the ELISA test comes up positive for hep C antibodies, but the person taking the test was never exposed to hep C virus, which leads the RNA test to read as negative.  

The problem is that antibodies that the immune system has produced to combat infections other than hep C can be what’s known as “cross-reactive”: The ELISA winds up picking up on these antibodies’ presence and incorrectly coming up positive. Research has shown, for example, that people are much more likely to test false positive if they’re living in areas of Africa where exposure to infectious diseases such as worms is more common. “There are a myriad of things than can infect you, particularly in areas where you don’t have a lot of sanitation and clean water,” says Oliver Laeyendecker, PhD, an infectious disease researcher at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Those who test false positive, regardless of the reason, will likely continue to do so for the duration of their lives. So in the event of future hep C exposure, an RNA test will be needed to accurately diagnose an infection. Major risk factors for contracting hep C include: injection drug use, including steroids; the sharing of needles, syringes or other injection materials; needlestick injuries in a health care setting; tattoos or piercings performed with non-sterilized equipment; and condomless sex among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM)."
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