3 Common Questions about Hep C Recurrence and Steps to Avoid Hep C Reinfection

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A concern most Hep C patients have after Hep C treatment is the possibility of Hep C recurring, be it on its own or the danger of reinfection.

Here are 3 most common questions asked by Hep C patients concerning recurrence and reinfection:

  1. What is the possibility of Hep C returning after I’ve finished treatment?
  2. Can I become reinfected with Hep C after I’ve finished treatment and told I’m cured?
  3. What preventive steps can I take to avoid reinfection?

 

What is the possibility of Hep C returning after I’ve finished treatment? This is a great question. If you have completed Hep C treatment and achieved an SVR 12 (sustained virologic response meaning the Hep C virus was Non-Detected in your body 12 weeks after completing Hep C treatment) then you are considered cured of Hep C.

 

Majority of physicians do follow up viral load tests at 24 weeks after treatment to confirm but medical studies show there is very little difference between 12 and 24 weeks.  Studies show patients have a less than >1% chance of the Hep C virus returning on it’s on, without reinfection.

 

Can I become reinfected with Hep C after I’ve finished treatment and told I’m cured? Dr. Rena K. Fox M.D, stated, “The chance of another infection with hepatitis C is much less than the first-time of infection, but it is not impossible. It has happened in people who continue to use injection drugs, and some studies suggest that it happens even more in people who are also HIV positive.”

 

The same preventive measures to avoid Hep C infection in the first place should be observed in all cases.

 

Having Hepatitis C once does not make you “immune” from getting Hep C again. ~ConnieMWelch… Click To Tweet

It is possible that you could become reinfected with a different genotype than what you had, or even with the same genotype. Again, having Hep C once doesn’t make you immune from Hep C no matter what the genotype is nor does it make you immune from Hep A or B. There is no vaccine for Hep C. There are vaccines for Hep A & Hep B. It is an important preventive step for you to get these vaccines.

 

What preventive steps can I take to avoid Hep C reinfection? Dr. Rena K. Fox M.D, states, “the best way to avoid reinfection is to reduce risky behaviors that can result in exposure to the hepatitis C virus: Do not use injection drugs, do not share needles for any reason, avoid blood-to-blood exposure with others, and use condoms if you are sexually active with a new partner or a partner who has used injection drugs.”

 

Here are further preventive steps to avoid Hep C reinfection:

  • Do not share personal items with others like razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail clippers or other personal items. If you have completed Hep C treatment a good step would be to throw away old razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste and replace with new ones. You can soak your nail clippers and personal care equipment in alcohol to clean them.
  • Wear latex gloves when you are helping someone dress an open wound.
  • Use recommended safety measures if you are exposed to blood or needle sticks.
  • Do not share needles.
  • Practice safe sex. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that the Hep C virus can be passed during sexual contact, yet it is a low risk if a person has one, long-term steady sexual partner. However, having multiple sex partners, or HIV, or engaging in rough sex can increase the risk of spreading the virus during sex.
  • Use clean needles and equipment for tattoos or body piercings.
  • Cover a cut, wound or sore with a clean sterile bandage immediately. It’s a good idea to keep band-aids in your wallet or purse in case you get cut away from home.
  • Clean all surfaces thoroughly after they have come in contact with blood. The CDC recommends any blood spills, including dried blood, which can still be infectious, should be cleaned using a dilution of one part household bleach to 10 parts water. Gloves should be worn with cleaning up blood spills. The Hep C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for up to 3 weeks.
  • In 1990 the U.S. began screening blood used for transfusions for hepatitis C, but prior years of non-screening brought many diagnosed cases of hepatitis C from infected blood and blood products. If a person had surgery or a blood transfusion prior to 1990, they should be tested for hepatitis C.

For more detailed about Hep C download the free guidebook, “3 Phases of Hep C Treatment; Your Guidebook from Diagnosis through Recovery”from our website, Life Beyond Hep C.com. 

 

Do you have question or comment about Hepatitis C recurrence or reinfection?

 

Share your comments below.

 

To view this post or other resources, see our home page at, Life Beyond Hep C.

 

More to read:

 

3 year Post Hep C Treatment Recovery Video by Connie.

 

 

 

 

 

Recovery from Hep C Treatment Side Effects.

 

 

 

 

 

How Long Does Recovery from Hep C Treatment Take?

 

 

 

 

Will you help us? Like our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/LifeBeyondHepatitisC , share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin, or email to a friend, pass it on.  Thanks!

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23 Responses to 3 Common Questions about Hep C Recurrence and Steps to Avoid Hep C Reinfection

  1. richard s. September 23, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Connie, a very informative article. I would just like to add to my brothers and sisters to try to avoid blood transfusions, if possible. I realize this cannot be done with some people who have hemophilia. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ that we now have medicine like Harvoni. God Bless, Richard .

    • Connie M September 23, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Hi Richard,
      Thank you for commenting. The screening for blood in the US has improved greatly in the last 20 years, making it safer to receive blood. I am not familiar with the screening process in other countries though. But in many cases blood transfusions are necessary to save lives, but caution and careful revaluation should also be done in every case. Asking questions about screening is a good proactive step we all need to ask as patients.
      Thanks for sharing my friend.

      Blessings,
      Connie

  2. Mary A. September 23, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Connie,
    I’m ready to throw out my toothbrushes, razors and bought a new bottle of rubbing alcohol for that day when I take my last dose. I have been asked if drinking alcohol (not rubbing) after successfully completing treatment may cause reinfection. The answer is no. Alcohol does not cause Hep C, but can cause liver damage and may lead to cirrhosis. My hepatologist told me to be “very moderate” if I choose to drink alcohol again. Frankly, I’ve lost the desire for it (not that I craved it pre Hep C). The way I see it, my liver has been through enough. If God is gracious and I beat the Hep C giant, I will treat my liver with respect and kindness. What have you fellow Warriors been told about post treatment “indulging”?
    Mary

    • Connie M September 23, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

      Hi Mary,
      My hepatologist said as long as you are past your post treatment tests with non-detectable, meaning 12 and 24 weeks after treatment and clear. Then you could be very moderate if at all. My gastroenterologist said, alcohol is like throwing gas onto a fire (a liver that is already compromised with damage, so don’t go there).

      Personally give me Ice Tea and I’m a happy camper! Everything we eat, drink, and exposed to goes through our liver, so in my mind, treat it with respect and be healthy.

      Blessings,
      Connie

  3. Suzanne September 23, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    Hello Mary,

    I am going to agree with Richard because after all you have been through and waiting SO long for medications it is not worth 1 drink. I too have heard that it is like pouring gasoline on a fire. I sometimes think it would be nice to have a glass of wine when we are out for dinner and a little voice in my head says “are you nuts??” I also have Cirrhosis so that would be awful. Please pamper yourself and do something special for Mary when you are cured but drinking no, just my opinion.

    I am praying for you as you approach the finish line. Mark started Harvoni yesterday so a huge praise to God on that one.

    God Bless you,

    Suzanne

  4. richard s. September 23, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    Good evening my friends , the answer Mary is no,no, and no again. We all have damaged livers. Suzanne is right, it is like putting liter fluid on the fire. My doctor at the Mayo Clinic told me almost the same thing as Suzanne. Basically, are you crazy? I never had a problem with alcohol, but I do have a problem with chocolate chip ice cream. When I was younger, I use to be able to eat a quart. Those days are long gone, but I am tempted to polish off a pint. My wife always comes to the rescue and brings me back to my senses. God bless you all, Richard

    • Mary A. September 23, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

      Richard,
      I must chime in on your comment. I never met a quart of Golden Spoons’s Chocolate Malt (frozen yogurt) that I couldn’t consume with fervor! Well, maybe not in one sitting.
      Mary

      • Connie M September 24, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

        Hi Mary,
        I will chime in as well. I’ve never had that particular frozen yogurt but it sounds delicious. I’m in line for anything chocolate. Never met anything chocolate I didn’t like. I am now having to watch the amount I consume but life is extra sweet with an occasional treat.

        When I was on my last Hep C treatment my taste buds went totally south. My taste of food changed, and I did not have an appetite, but on that specific treatment with Incivek (no longer on the market) you had to consume a large fat requirement with every dose. It was hard to make myself eat especially on things that would normally have been so yummy. I realized how amazing it is that God made us with taste buds and why.

        I am grateful to have my taste buds back to normal.
        Enjoy some yogurt and celebrate as you are only days away from your last week of treatment.
        Woo Hoo!!!!

        Blessings sweet friend,
        Connie

  5. Charlie September 27, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Good morning everyone! I had my six month blood tests done last week. I will not know the VL until Wednesday. My doctor told me I will have six month checkups with him from now until ever. Is this what you all have been told as well?

    • Richard S. September 27, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

      Charlie, that sounds right. However, people who have had a transplant must go every 3 months.Believe it or not I have 5 doctors. A family practice doctor, a cardiologist , a gastroenterologist , a hepatologist , a dermatologist . The Lord is faithful and I am glad he has provided these doctors for me. God Bless, Richard .

    • Connie M September 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

      Hi Charlie,
      Follow up blood work/exams may depend on each physician, and the patient. My hepatologist told me I would have blood tests every 6 months until I reached 2 years then he would taper off to once a year until I reached the 5 year mark. But again, I believe this depends on each physician. Tests and monitoring are always a good proactive step for our health.

      Keep us posted on your test results. I know several other Hep C Warriors who are in the ‘waiting room’ for test results also. This is a big week.
      Rest in Him. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

      Blessings,
      Connie

  6. Sandra September 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    Hello Connie and fellow warriors, I finally slayed the dragon once and for all ! After 24 weeks of Harvoni I have SVR ! My Doctor told me that I AM CURED NO MORE HEP C ! He said I dont need to get any more blood drawn or even see him anymore ! I had previously failed olsio/solvaldi and before that inteferon as well . I HAD Hep c since 1969 ! . I am slowly feeling better and better everyday my liver is healing I dont feel the fullness there anymore . It is quite remarkable that HARVONI worked for me. I had given up hope of it or anything to ever working because of the prior failed treatments. With the grace of GOD my prayers were answered.I thank the good LORD everyday and I will be SO CAREFUL to take good care of my poor liver NO ALCOHOL EVER no meds either that harm the liver . My Doctor was the best ! He pushed for the 24 weeks and it was approved . HARVONI is a very easy drug to take . Had no side effects at all. Keep fighting dont give up It will work out o.k.. The time is right there are many treatments out there now. looks promising . GOD BLESS YOU ALL Sandra

    • Connie M September 29, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

      Hi Sandra,
      So thrilled for you my friend. Congratulations!!!! What glorious news!!! Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a grand celebration. Wonderful Praise to God!!!

      Keep us posted on how you’re doing in recovery.
      Blessings my friend,
      Connie

  7. April July 13, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    Hi Connie,
    Sandra’s comment is encouraging – that even after sovaldi/olysio did not bring her the cure, harvoni (which also contains sovaldi) did cure her of hep c. Maybe Epclusa can cure me. On Aug 1, I’m going to the GI and discuss it.
    In preparation for hep c treatment, would disinfectant wipes be effective enough to destroy the virus on surfaces? What about hydrogen peroxide? How can I disinfect porcelain without etching it with bleach, or how can I clean the sofa without damaging the upholstery? Or clean wooden surfaces?
    April

    • Connie M July 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      Hi April,
      We are very excited about Epclusa’s approval and release, definitely talk to your doctor about it.

      As for your questions on how to destroy the virus on surfaces. Remember, it is blood spills that you only need to be concerned with. The CDC recommends part bleach and part water. The disinfectant wipes are great for your hands, but not sure about the surface, depending on what surface you might need something effective for counter tops or upholstery that could be cleaned. When cleaning up any blood spill always be sure to wear latex gloves. You can purchase Lysol spray cleaner with bleach for counter tops, or hard surfaces but I wouldn’t use it on upholstery. I wouldn’t use hydrogen peroxide to clean any surface, bleach/water combo is best.

      Good questions. Hope these answers help.
      Blessings,
      Connie

  8. Roger P July 13, 2016 at 11:59 am #

    Good morning Connie, I enjoyed your article this morning. This website is a god send not only for me but so many others I am sure, so much helpful information. Right before I began my treatment with Harvoni I threw away my tooth brush & nail clippers & toe clippers. I went to Walmart & bought all new again, the way I thought about it was, the little cost I paid for these items are well worth it than becoming reinfected with Hep C. As cheap as tooth brushes are I am buying one a week. The funny thing is I don’t have any teeth–lol, I have dentures, but I still use a toothbrush to bush my dentures & inside my gums & tongue. Hope you & your family are having a blessed day. God Bless, Roger

    • Connie M July 13, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

      Hi Roger,
      Thank you for sharing. These are great tips you’ve shared and you are right on the mark. Those little steps make big differences! Thanks for sharing.

      Blessings,
      Connie

  9. Richard s. May 17, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    Connie, I am finally again at the beach. I feel at peace here. It was a pleasure rereading your post again. God bless you and all the warriors. I am going to see my hepatologist tomorrow. We will see how it goes. Thank you my friend for all that you do. I am sure I speak for many of us, we love you are sister. His bondservant, Richard .

    • Connie M May 19, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

      Hi Richard,
      I’m so glad you’re back home at the beach. How beautiful and peaceful. Thank you for letting us know about your hepatologist appt. Be sure to let us know how things go.

      Thank you for your very kind words my friend. I am humbled and honored. All of you are so dear to my heart. I am so blessed to call you my friend and co-warrior.

      Many Blessings my friend,
      Connie

  10. Margaret Nicholas May 17, 2017 at 11:09 pm #

    Dear connie,
    Thank you for this information. I do wonder if it will come back! Paranoid!! You’ve given all the answers I have wondered about.
    Hope your doing well dear friend!🦋
    Love you,
    Margee

    • Connie M May 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

      Hi Margee,
      So glad you found the article helpful. It was awhile after recovery when I stopped wondering it would come back also. But with new treatment, we can excellent percentages.

      I hope you’re doing well and having a good week.
      Many Blessings my friend,
      Connie

  11. Altaf alam May 18, 2017 at 12:39 am #

    After hcv treatment is it safe to get married?If it will affect my partner or newborn child as hcv pass through sexual contact.

    • Connie M May 19, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

      Hello Altaf,
      Yes, it is most certainly safe to get married, have children and enjoy a full life with your spouse. If you’ve gone through treatment and received an SVR12 (meaning you’re Non-Detected for the virus 12 weeks after treatment) then you have a less than 1% chance of the virus returning.

      By all means, enjoy your marriage my friend.
      Blessings,
      Connie

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