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Newly diagnosed and scared

Hi Everyone, I recently went to see my doctor and after my blood work was completed, I found out that I have Hep C. She want me to follow up with a Gastroenterologist. I don’t have any information as yet on viral load etc. The only information I have through lab corp is Hepatitis C virus Ab >11.0 and the normal range being 0.0-0.9. My AST is high, 121 and the normal range is 0-40, My ALT is 109 and the normal range is 0-32. She also ordered more blood test which confirmed that I have Hep c. However I don’t have a copy of those tests.

Does this tell me anything, or does these numbers give any indications on whether I should worry or be concerned? My appointment to see the Gastroenterologist is in 4 weeks, should I try to find another who might be able to get me in earlier? I am trying to understand this new diagnosis.

Would like to say thank you in advance to Anyone who has knowledge on this and replies.

  1. Hi Sarah. First of all take a deep breath and try to relax. It is never an emergency to treat hepatitis C. This virus is a very very slowly progressive virus if it progresses at all. Years ago interferon was the only treatment. The side effects were miserable and it only cured 40% of patients. Most had to treat for 48 weeks. Today's treatment lasts 8-12 weeks, has minimal side effects, and cures almost 100%. If you have to be diagnosed with this virus, you did it at the right time. Your numbers are actually quite normal for hepatitis C? Don't worry if you viral load is in the millions. Sounds scary doesn't it? A viral load of 10 million does not mean you are sicker than someone with a viral load of 500. You are going to be just fine. (Sue, Community Moderator)

    1. Hi Sarah - Your AST and ALT levels would indicate some inflammation of the Liver. Only a liver biopsy will tell you how significant the damage is (or isn't) which could impact your course of treatment. Once you begin this journey it's very important to get copies of all your bloodwork and tests. Keep them organized by date in a folder. Not only is it helpful should you change doctor's but it helps you stay focused on your body and any changes you may feel or experience. Check with your doctor or the lab to see if they have a portal you can access to view your test results. If they don't, then request copies from your doctor. Find out from your physician (or members here) what markers are important to monitor, for instance back when my husband had HCV he was treated with interferon so it was super important to monitor white and red blood cell levels.

      Find a Gastroenterologist with experience in treating HepC. I can't stress this enough. You should have a biopsy done before you start any type of treatment. If your insurance company doesn't cover all your meds make sure to reach out to the pharmaceutical companies and inquire into their patient assistant programs.

      Don't be afraid. Stay in control of your care. They've come so far with treatment. You're going to be fine.

      1. Hey Deb, thank you for your detailed post to Sarah. The only thing i can add is that the vast majority of doctors are no longer requiring biopsies before treatment because the newer treatments are so successful. And cirrhosis can be seen in labwork with low platelets, albumin, and red and white counts. I am glad your hubby was successful with interferon. He was certainly one of the few lucky ones who responded to that difficult treatment. (Sue, Community Moderator)

        1. is there a vaccine available for hepatitis c

          1. Hi @healthcare8055, There is a clinical trial in the works to develop a hep C vaccine, but it likely will not be available for a while, if at all. This article explains some other important vaccines and why developing a hep C vaccine is a little complicated. https://hepatitisc.net/clinical/vaccines -Jessica, Team Member

          2. Thank you for asking that question. I’m not sure about a vaccine for hepatitis C, however, transplantation of hepatitis C organs trial began a handful of years ago. I know because I willingly accepted a Hep C donor’s heart in 2019. I also have Stage 2 liver fibrosis. (Leslie, Community Moderator)

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