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"Baby Boomer" father diagnosed with hepatitis c

Mar 16, 2014

Hello Dr. Holodniy,

Recently my father was diagnosed with HCV after discovering that he had cirrhosis of the liver and strange, unexplained bruises. He very rarely drinks alcoholic beverages, but he is now completely eliminating them. He's considered of the "baby boomer" generation and he isn't sure how he got hcv given that he has never engaged in risky activities. When his labs came back, his HCV viral load was 600,000 and he has the genotype 1 kind. Is that a high viral load? And is the genotype 1 easily treatable? He's going to start treatment soon. Luckily, my mother doesn't have HCV, but I'm surprised that he didn't pass it on to my mother. Is my mother just extremely lucky that she didn't contract it or is HCV not likely to be transmitted through sex?

Also, will having cirrhosis lower the probability of his treatment being successful?

Thank you Dr. Holodniy

Response from Dr. Holodniy

That HCV viral load would be considered lower than average (which is around 2-3 million IU/mL). Genotype 1 is the most common type in the US, and up until recently has been the most difficult genotype to treat. However, given the recent approval of several HCV direct acting antiviral medications, which specifically target genotype 1, treatment for genotype 1 is now much more successful. Those people with advanced liver disease with severe fibrosis or cirrhosis, in general, have less response to treatment than those with less advanced infection. Although HCV is not generally considered a sexually transmitted infection, data is not completely conclusive on this issue.

HIV-DNA viral load
HIV antibodies

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