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build up of HC-V
May 19, 2010

Dear Dr. McGovern,

I am recently diagnosed with HCV (co-infected with HiV, which I contracted in 2005). I was wondering if you could clarify me on the swiftness with which the Hepatitis C virus can build up in the body. I know for a fact that I was still HCV-negative in january 2010. Yet, on the first measurement on 31 March 2010 the viral load was 3.500.000!!!! Is this common in recent HC-v infections? And does this fact provide any indication if my treatment (with Interferon that I started two weeks ago) will be succesful?

Kind regards to you and the rest of the team from Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Response from Dr. McGovern

Patients with chronic infection often have high levels of virus in the blood (viremia) which remain stable over time.

However, patients with recently acquired HCV infection (eg, acute HCV) can have a one-time high level of viremia which may fluctuate with serial testing. Acute HCV infection is possible in you because you were negative in January and then had viremia in March. For example, if you acquired your infection just a few weeks before testing, you may be measuring "peak viremia"....Your next level might be very different (eg, much lower) depending on how your immune system is responding.

If you still have persistent viremia this week (get tested!), I would suggest prompt treatment ASAP....That is because the response rates to treatment are higher than in chronic infection - even in HIV+ patients.

Best regards for a good outcome!

my hepatitis profile

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