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When’s the Best Time for HCV Treatment Around a Transplant?

Why Would Someone With Hepatitis C Need A Transplant?

One of the toughest aspects of hepatitis C infections is that many who have the virus may not know they have it for a long period of time. This is because many do not experience symptoms that are severe enough that they seek medical treatment or they may not experience symptoms at all. This can lead to a person having the virus for months or years without knowing it and without being treated. In some cases, this gives the virus enough time to cause enough liver damage that the liver has cirrhosis. In the worst cases, some liver damage is so significant and so permanent that the body cannot repair it, nor can the body function with the liver working at such a low capacity. This results in the need for the patient to receive a liver transplant.

Why Does It Matter When A Transplant Occurs?

There are two periods of time in which a person with hepatitis C in need of a liver transplant can be treated; before the transplant or after the transplant. New studies suggest that the best course of action is to treat for hep C before the transplant occurs. This protects the transplanted liver from ever being exposed to hepatitis C and suffering damage due to the virus. By knowing the best treatment timing, medical professionals can protect the body while also treating the virus in ways that are most likely to be successful.

Hepatitis C treatments can cause potential side effects and it is important to avoid re-treatment and potentially exposing someone to additional side effects. Understanding the proper timing of hepatitis C treatment around a transplant not only helps the body but it also helps the wallet. The overarching goal for the medical team and the patient is to provide the best possible treatment at the right time so that the patient becomes cured of the virus and is able to live a post-transplant life that is as happy and healthy as possible, while minimizing the risks and increasing the chances that the body accepts the new organ.

I Have Hepatitis C, Will I Need A Transplant?

This depends on numerous factors. They likely include the length of time your body had hepatitis C before you began treatment, your body’s experience with treatment, and other medical concerns. This is because some people become infected with the virus and begin treatment quickly (their infection is considered to have been acute) and others have the virus for years or even decades before they find out and begin treatment (their infection is considered to be chronic). In addition, the person’s overall health is a critical aspect of how the virus interacts with the body. Those who are generally healthier and in better physical shape may have fewer long-term complications related to having hepatitis C than someone whose body is already dealing with other medical conditions. Only your doctor can answer for sure whether your liver was compromised due to your infection and, if so, whether the damage is significant enough that you may require a liver transplant.1-3

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. Hiltzik, M. (2016). Is that $100,000 hepatitis treatment worth the price? Yes, but can society afford it?. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from
  2. Njei, B., McCarty, T., Fortune, B., & Lim, J. (2016). Optimal timing for hepatitis C therapy in US patients eligible for liver transplantation: a cost-effectiveness analysis. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 44(10), 1090-1101.
  3. Princing, M. (2015). Effective hepatitis C drugs spur debate on cost, access | UW HSNewsBeat. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from