The Coronavirus and Hepatitis C Immunity
Last updated: July 2021
When we have hep C, our liver is being invaded and inflamed by a growing number of infected cells. The new direct acting anti-viral treatments are curing it faster than ever, but can the coronavirus and hepatitis C affect our immunity? I’m all over this, and research is scarce. Let’s look together at the factors surrounding our lives before, during, and after hep C treatment.
Patients with active hep C
In a healthy person, cells are all communicating and signaling each other. Increased inflammation is a good sign that our body is attacking the HCV invader. Our body is designed to kill a virus. However, when a virus like hep C keeps growing in spite of our body response, our immune regulators begin to shut down. We need treatment.
According to scientists, hep C “ghosts” our immune response and triggers our regulators into shutting down. The virus is left to grow away, totally unchecked in many people. The normally healthy immune response is hijacked, leaving any virus, including the coronavirus, to invade people with hepatitis C.
People who have active hepatitis C do not always have an effective immune response because of ongoing inflammation.
During hepatitis C treatment
The direct acting anti-virals target hep C, leaving it little chance of survival. The cure rate is nearly 100% in killing the virus! While on treatment, we all try to get good healthcare. We eat healthy, drink a lot of water, and get plenty of rest. When we're on treatment, we may still be weak. Thats because the once “perfect environment” for hep C is now getting weakened. The treatment is blasting the virus and kills it’s ability to breed.
After clearing the hep C virus
There is little research or follow-up done for people who have been cured. However, typically, general health is improved after sustained viral response. Many people have experienced improved liver health as cirrhosis disease reverses.
Some of the older treatments left people like me weaker. Interferon was a drug that was given in conjunction with Ribavirin, and eventually with protease inhibitors. Many like myself cleared the virus and had improved health, yet there were long term problems with immunity. Some of this could be because a large number of Baby Boomers had hepatitis C for decades without knowing it. With the coronavirus, we may be considered in the higher risk group due to age, and weakened immunity.
Considerations for the immumocompromised
People who are immune-compromised may be at a greater risk of both acquiring coronavirus as well as developing more severe cases of the illness. People in these groups should take the necessary precautions just as we would for any other flu bug or virus. If you have any questions, talk to your health care provider about steps to protect you from the coronavirus, or any other communicable disease.
Tips to help you relax
Stress itself can get our immune system out of whack. After all my research this week, I’ve concluded that the coronavirus will be around for a while. For myself, and others with hepatitis C immunity problems, we can put common sense precautions into practice by frequent hand-washing, use of hand sanitizer, and maybe a mask in public areas where large groups gather. Let your doctor know your concerns, but most of all, relax and enjoy your life.