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Is Hepatitis C Gone?

Is hepatitis C gone? In other words, has hep C been eliminated or eradicated from society?

Firstly, it needs to be said that hep C is not gone, as in eliminated or eradicated, even if we’re getting closer to this happening in some places. There is a target to reach called elimination, which will not mean total eradication worldwide but will, if successful, make it at least managed to a great extent.

Can hep C be eliminated?

What does elimination mean in this context, you may ask… The World Health Organization (WHO) has targets for elimination by 2030. A lofty goal considering all of the millions affected by hep C globally, but potentially achievable as long as the signees to the WHO targets act on the development and implementation of meaningful plans that make care and treatment equitably available. These actions should also include improved testing programs to identify people living with hep C.1

Can hep C be cured?

The meaning of this question may be more personal, as in wondering if a person’s hep C was cured. That depends on whether your own immune response effectively defeated the hep C virus, or if a treatment was effective in doing the same. As many as 25% of people who have been exposed to hep C will clear with their body’s immune response, while retaining antibodies. However, these antibodies themselves do not offer future immunity or protection, presently.

What does “cured” mean?

Cure is a word used to describe what is called sustained virologic response (SVR), which means that you remain virus undetectable for a minimum of 12 weeks after the end of treatment. (Some clinicians suggesting testing at 24 weeks after end of treatment (EOT), to be certain there is no relapse.)

Cure, as a term, works for most, but there are some people who prefer “SVR” because it does not indicate forever (like most of us think of the word cure). There is no remission with hep C, or being active or inactive. Additionally, viral load values can go up and down in the absence of any treatment and are, in general, only meaningful when testing for baseline and response to treatment. In my own experience, I saw my viral load go from 9 million to 5 million in just a few months, and I was not in any treatment at the time. With treatment, when it went from 5 million to less than 15, I was tickled pink, because it meant undetectable or cured, as it has stayed that way for many years (9 to be precise!).

I hope my effort to address these questions has, in some way, made things a little clearer. If you still have questions, comment below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. WHO. Combating hepatitis B and C to reach elimination by 2030. World Health Organization. Accessed May 20, 2019.