Hepatitis C Reinfection and Recurrence

Hepatitis C re-infection and recurrence is a concern for many patients. Learning the facts versus assuming myths is important to keep yourself protected from re-infection and recurrence.

Fact versus myth about re-infection

Many believe if you have been exposed or had hepatitis C and been treated successfully that you cannot be re-infected. This is a myth and untrue. Hepatitis C lives in blood infected with the hep C virus. You can become re-infected with hepatitis C in a variety of ways.

Once you’ve had hepatitis C, even for a short time in the acute phase, your body builds antibodies, showing you have once had hepatitis C; This does not make you immune or prevent you from being re-infected.

Fact versus myth about recurrence

The hepatitis C virus mutates and replicates in the body rapidly. Treatment with direct-acting antivirals attacks the protein in the virus-cell, destroying it, thus making it impossible for the cell to replicate.

Once you have been treated for hepatitis C and received an SVR12, meaning 12 weeks after treatment was completed there is no hepatitis C virus detected in your blood, you are considered cured.

Within 12 weeks after treatment has been completed, there is sufficient time to detect the further activity of the virus; If none is detected, you have a less than 1% chance of hepatitis C recurring.

How hepatitis C is transmitted

Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood infected with hepatitis C in a variety of ways:

  • When infected blood from someone who has hepatitis C comes in contact with someone’s open wound, cut, or sore
  • Needles (syringes) or instruments with hepatitis C infected blood
  • Dried blood infected with hep C - Hepatitis C can live on surfaces for a few weeks and should be cleaned by wearing latex gloves and cleaning the surface with part bleach and water mixture.
  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, and personal hygiene items
  • Having unprotected sex with someone who has hepatitis C (if there is blood to blood contact)
  • Pregnancy and birth from mother to the child - Transmission is low but can happen.
  • Needlestick from those who work in the healthcare field and first responders
  • Risk for those who have been incarcerated.
  • Risk for those from tattoos or piercing with contaminated needles and equipment
  • Those who received blood, blood products or organs prior to 1992

In summary

Caution and preventive measures will always need to be taken to keep you safe from being re-infected with hepatitis C. Be proactive, you're worth it!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.