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Hep C Treatment Side Effects
Aug 14, 2014

I have been HIV positive for 32 years and feel great. Recent labs show everything is within range and HIV viral load is 6,000. Several months ago my infectious disease doctor suggested I begin treatment for my Hep C infection because the viral load had spiked to 5.3 million. I immediately began taking Milk Thistle and after 6 weeks, my Hep C viral load dropped to 1.6 million. The reason I am hesitant to undergo my doctor's treatment is because years ago I had severe side effects during my sole attempt at Hep C treatment and had to stop treatment after 5 months. My questions re. the newest treatment protocol for Hep C: 1. What are the side effects? 2. At what viral load of Hep C is it wise to begin treatment? 3. Is this medicine covered by most health insurances? 4. If I proceed with treatment, will the doctor most likely require a liver biopsy? Thanks in advance.

Response from Dr. Taylor

The new hep C treatments are pills without the interferon injections. The are overall safe and well-tolerated. Milk thistle will not cure hep C. For people living with HIV, if you can access a hep C physician and be treated with the pills without interferon, I highly recommend proceeding. There is more than 1 set of pills and in part this depends on your genotype, so ask your doctor what genotype and what pills specifically she/he is considering.

The hep C viral load is not the determining factor when considering hep C treatment, unlike HIV and hep B. The amount of liver damage is a key factor to consider, along with whether you can access the new pills. A liver biopsy is not medically necessary. If your doctor can help you access the inferferon-free treatments, yes I would proceed. Whether or not insurance covers these depends on where you live.



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