Jean, I am not getting the impression that you want to treat, but rather to know where you stand. My suggestion would be to find out. Having the antibodies does not mean you have chronic hepatitis C, but you very well may have. Like you, I tested postive for the antibodies ages ago - 1992. It was not until I turned 57 in 2005 that I decided to find out for sure, so I had my internist do the antibody test again. When it was positve, I was referred to a Gastrointerologist who ran the test to see if I had a viral load. This is what you need to do. Have a PCR test run to see if you do.
If that test shows virus, they will then run another test to determine genotype. At that point, I suggest you have a liver biopsy too. Your liver enzymes are elevated, but not by much. I have always had liver enzymes in the normal range (20's) yet have carried this virus for over 30 years. A liver biopsy can be the determining factor on whether you will want to treat.
I don't think statins are harmful to the liver, but google the connection. There were some studies done to see if statins might be beneficial in treating hep C but I don't think they were. An occasional glass of wine probably won't hurt, but I cut it all out -- just a lifestyle choice. I don't see the connection in the UTI -- but those prone to UTI's seem to get a lot of them while treating.
Ironically, a blood transfusion I had for surgery for an ectopic pregnancy was one of the possible, although not probable, sources for my infection.
I know that infections and the antibiotics used to fight them can raise the liver enzymes. I had that issue with a staph infection. The PCR, genotype and a liver biopsy will provide the information that will help determine what condition you're in and what will be the most beneficial steps to take.
Best of luck,
The fear and uncertainty can do more harm than knowing the facts and planning accordingly so that you WILL have lots of good years watching your family grow. As an engineer, your inner geek should be screaming "get the facts, then design a solution!!"
1. Locate a liver disease clinic, and get a PCR test to determine if you actually have HCV. You may have antibodies, but no active HCV. Some small percentage of HCV infections resolve naturally, but don't rely on being in that small class. HCV is insidious, in that it acts silently for years. The PCR will tell you if you have HCV, and if so which genotype. You need to know.
2. If you actually have HCV, you need a liver biopsy to determine the current state of your liver tissue. There are four stages of liver damage, and given you have no frank symptoms its likely that you are not at the nasty end of that scale. You need to know.
Armed with those facts, you can make a plan. There are some impressive new drugs in clinical trial that could be game changers for HCV treatment. The current standard treatment involves 48 weeks of treatment with a less than 50% success rate for the tough genotypes. I was lucky enough to get into a clinical trial for one of the new drugs, treated for 24 weeks, and am now cured - we call it sustained viral response - SVR. The new drugs are maybe 2-3 years from being generally available, but HCV moves slowly. Depending on 1. & 2. above, the waiting game might be right for you. Clinical trials are also an option.
Find the facts first. You may not have HCV. If you do, and you know your liver histology status, there are some really good options opening up to get you HCV free and ready to enjoy the family without a cloud of uncertainty hanging over your head. Stop worrying and start fact finding :-)
Great post! I wish I could lay it out so logically. I hope Jean follows through.
For my info, do you mind posting (or message me) about your specifics: were you geno 1? What trial were you part of?
24 weeks looks alot better than the 72 I am heading for. If a relapse is in the cards for me, I would like to know a little more about others' experiences with other therapies.
Hello, I'm new and still learning. I tested positive for hcv antibodies and a test showed genotype 2b. I've not gotten the results of the PCR yet.
Do the antibodies have a "genotype"? My question is it possible I don't have active HCV?
Jean you could not have had this explained to you better that frijole did.
Firjole, You are always so right on with info and you make reading your post comforting.
Jean, honestly, I didn't think they ran the genotyping until they knew if you had chronic active hepatitis c. I think they (don't ask me the medical details) enhance the blood and put it on a strip that has all the genotypes on it and it gravitates to the one you have. What confuses me is that I thought you had to have the virus itself to do this - not just the antibody. So, if you have already tested for 2B (which is better by far than having 1 or 4, by the way) it is quite possible that you will have detectible virus. Sorry.
cajun -- glad to see you. Thanks for the compliment. It has been one of "those" days and that was nice to hear. How are you? How is life post tx? I am trying to remember if you cleared. Did you? I am not sure what I am doing -- may wait until 2010 and try to get Vertex. Just not sure, but not ready to jump back into treatment.
Oops - that post was directed to you, not jean. sorry about that
Very good questions.
First, if you haven't already, you want to find out if you really have Hepatitis C or just the antibodies. That will require a PCR Viral Load test. If you only have the antibodies then a good liver specialist (hepatologist) will look for other reasons for your elevated liver enzymes. They will also advise regarding the statins and alcohol issue.
On the other hand, if it turns out you have the virus, the next step might be imaging studies and a liver biopsy to find out how much liver damage you may have. Again, a glood liver specialist will advise you going forward based on those results.
But in either case, it seems to first step is to find yourself a good liver specialist (hepatologist) if you haven't already.
Hepatologists are usually found at your larger, teaching hospitals, and therefore may be a little out of your way. That said, it might be a very worthwhile trip -- at least for a one-time consult -- to help put the jigsaw puzzle together and give you more peace of mind.
Either way, I'm sure you will live long enough to see your grandchildren and even their children because in general Hep C -- assuming you have it -- is a very slow moving disease, and what's more treatments are getting better every day.
If you can't find a good hepatologist in Maine, there's an excellent one in Boston which might not be too far depending where in Maine you live.
Contact info here: http://tinyurl.com/nbavn
All the best,
I think you are right about the genotyping, you need a PCR. I could be wrong. All the info you and others gave the Jean and etol seem right on. Not sure how etol got a genotype without the PCR. Jim should know.
Jean; You are more likely to die of something other than Hep C. My dr. says I will die from smoking long before I die from Hep C. We all worry about living at first. Keep coming here and you will learn a lot. Get that PCR and BX, it will tell you genotype and how much damage you have in your liver.