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Hep C genotypes
Apr 24, 2014

Doctor Young, Thank you very much for answering the following question:

Is there really a cure for Hep C? Apr 12, 2014

I know "THE BODY" deals mainly with HIV. However, a "cure" for Hep C is mentioned at your site and if you treat HIV you must see Hep C patients. I am confused about the use of the word "cure" when talking about Hep C. I thought hep C is a retro virus and even if all the Hep C viruses in the blood stream were dead, the Hep C RNA within functional cells could still replicate. I know that if a person has natural active immunity to Hep B and they have Beta Cell Lymphoma the Hep B can make a comeback. Is Hep C different? I am Hep C positive and, last time I had blood drawn, I did not have a detectable amount of Hep C RNA in my blood. I was told to still use condoms. Was I misinformed?

Thanks, David McEvoy

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

You have been misinformed.

Yes, we do a lot of work with hepatitis C virus (HCV)- and yes, HCV is curable.

HCV is not a retrovirus at all. HCV is sexually transmitted, particularly among men who have sex with men.

[It's hepatitis B virus that integrates it's chromosome into the human chromosome (like a retrovirus).]

If you are HCV antibody positive, but HCV RNA negative, you're among the fortunate minority (~25%) of individuals who naturally clear (or cure) the virus without medications.

So in the end, while you've been exposed to HCV, if your HCV RNA is negative, then you're not chronically infected, nor are you contagious. I'd still suggest condoms not from the perspective of whether you can infect someone else, but from the perspective that you don't want to get reinfected with HCV (it happens) or infected with other sexually transmitted infections.

I hope that's helpful, BY

I have more questions. Do I have natural active immunity against the genotype I was infected with? If drugs had been needed to cure me would I be susceptible to reinfection by the same genotype I had been infected with? I work as an LPN at a hospital in a city that has many iv drug users. I often have Hep C positive patients. I want to have a good understanding of Hep C.

Thanks again, David

Response from Dr. Young

Hello again David and good to hear back from you.

Yes, reinfection with HCV (even with the same genotype) can occur. Here's a summary of a recent study that concluded such (in sexual transmission).

Hope that's helpful, BY

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