Aftercare: Treatment Completion and Cured of Hep C
If you are one of the people like me who are now cured of hep C, there may be a need to have continued care. There can however, be long-lasting effects of living with hep C more than the obvious liver damage that some people experience.
The more advanced scarring of the liver (fibrosis) which results in cirrhosis is the most widely known effect that people with liver disease can be left with, even with a cure of the virus. Regular monitoring is still required and if you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, your care team will talk to you about it.
This might include blood draws and/or scans at prescribed intervals. The type of scan you might need will be determined by your team.
As you may have read or heard about, the hep C virus (HCV) is not limited to its effect on the liver.
Cured but still having hep C issues
It is not uncommon in my work to hear a person share with me that despite being cured of hep C, they are still dealing with any number of issues. Some being quite challenging. Some are diagnosed while others are yet to have a diagnosis, and that can be for several reasons.
One thing I have seen is that a care team for hep C may not understand well or know of all the different health conditions caused by hep C that can have a lasting impact on your health and wellness. This is not unique to hep C and is not dissimilar to what many have described after having Covid and have identified themselves as ‘long haulers’ or having ’long Covid’.
Again, this refers to the lasting damage or effects of a virus. A holistic approach to health describes the best way to look at aftercare with hep C, in my opinion.
When to see your doctor for ongoing issues
Like what that old skeleton song says about how the hip bone is connected to the thighbone, and the thighbone is connected to the leg bone… you get the idea. An infectious disease like hep C and others can leave us with legacy health issues that may compromise our overall health.
If you are experiencing different symptoms that can include pain, fatigue, persistent brain fog, or any other different or worsening feeling of ill-health, it is important to follow up with your doctor, or the clinic where you received treatment for hep C.
If they are not able to provide the care that you need, they should be able to steer you in the direction of an appropriate specialist as needed. Do not be alarmed if you need to revisit your doctor.
Most people will see these things resolve in time and may never experience anything that requires extra care beyond the regular follow-up to assure that treatment has been successful, and you have reached SVR/Cure at 12 weeks after the end of treatment.
I think comorbid (other) health issues that have been diagnosed already, affect how much regular monitoring should occur. Aftercare is an important part of the hep C cascade of care, as much as any other step towards a hep C-free life and better long-term health and wellness.
That is what we all want, and what we all deserve.
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