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ALT Levels and PCR
May 19, 2007

Dear Dr. McGovern,

I have a few questions about HCV that I can't find clear answers to. I apologize for asking but you are a reputable source and I have spent hours reading the web. If somebody is infected with HCV what percentage of people will have rises in ALT levels a month or two after exposure? I have read that after the first few months many people will have stable liver but my question is do most people regardless of symptoms show elevated ALT levels? Also what is the time from exposure to time a PCR test will show results for people with normal immune systems? I have read 1-2 weeks but is that true for a small subset of people or a fairly safe time frame?

Thank You,


Response from Dr. McGovern

After exposure to HCV, symptoms of acute hepatitis C usually occur within about 8 to 12 weeks, but the window can be earlier or later. However, most people do not have symptoms.

Virus is usually detected in 1 to 2 weeks in most, but not all, patients. I think that may be related to inoculum size (how much virus you were exposed to).

Yes most people have abnormal liver function tests - even if they are without symptoms.

Am I infected with Hepa B?

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