Understanding the importance of viral load of hepatitis C infection is very important for the management of the viral infection. Hepatitis C is one of the 5 types of viruses that cause liver inflammation. Other types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E.
The virus has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to have affected about 3.5 million people in the United States. It is at times very difficult to manage and treat this viral infection, other times the management of the infection is very easy; this is largely because of the amount of virus in the body, which is referred to as the viral load of the infection.
Interesting to know is that the virus can also be gotten via unprotected sexual intercourse, unsafe blood transfusion and sharing of sharp objects like needles. Be that as it may, the risk of hepatitis C through sexual intercourse is very low. In all, the viral load of the infection is important to be determined especially in individuals who have been tested positive to hepatitis C blood test.
For the determination of hepatitis C viral load, a special blood test is required, which is different from the regular hepatitis C virus blood test. This test is called ‘Viral Load Testing’. This test is very important for the actual determination of viral load of HCV, which in turn influences the treatment and management of the infection.
Useful Facts about HCV Viral Load
The following are basic facts about the viral load of the hepatitis C viral infection:
- Symptoms are not affected by viral load. In as much as the viral load is the amount of virus in the body, it does not necessarily affect the onset of symptoms. Even with heavy or light viral load, the symptoms of hepatitis C virus become visible after about 2 weeks of the viral exposure. Therefore, the viral load cannot be predicted with the severity of the visible symptoms.
- Treatment is associated with viral load. The viral load determines, to a large extent, the efficacy of the treatment because a low viral load can be treated easily while a high viral load will take more time to be removed completely from the body.
- The future of hepatitis C virus cannot be predicted by the viral load. The difference between hepatitis C viral load and others is the fact that the HCV viral load cannot determine the next stage of the infection; it does not mean the individual will break down very soon or the liver will soon be damaged if the viral load is high.
- The undetected viral load is the goal of HCV treatment. The actual goal of the HCV treatment is to completely eradicate any form of viral load from the body. If the viral load test can no longer detect a viral load in an individual, then such a person is free from the infection. Although, the virus can still return to the body if later exposed to it.
- Even with no viral load, one can still test positive to HCV. Normal HCV test screens for HCV antibodies in the body which is produced to counter the viral infection. These antibodies, however, can be present in the body even after the virus has been cured adequately. This is why an individual may still test positive to HCV test even when the viral load is undetected.
Test for Viral load
Viral load can be tested with a viral load test. This test screens the blood for the presence of the HCV’s genetic material (RNA) which helps the virus to make more copies of it and eventually destroy more liver cells. The result of the viral load test can be undetected, high, or low, depending on the number of virus in the body. The test is important immediately after testing positive to HCV blood test; it is also important during treatment of the infection and after a dosage of drugs has been completed.
Importance of viral load test
A viral load test is really very important for the adequate management and eventual cure of the HCV infection because it helps to determine the viral load of the infection which then serves as a pointer to the treatment of the virus. The essence of viral load test includes:
- Treatment of hepatitis C viral infection can be monitored adequately with HCV viral load test.
- HCV viral load test can determine if the hepatitis virus has been eliminated from the body after treatment.
- A viral load test can predict the efficacy of treatment because higher load cannot be treated easily while the lower load is easier to treat.
Note also that the viral load of HCV is very important to be determined so as to enhance complete cure of the infection, it is very necessary to present oneself for the viral load test if one has been tested positive to HCV. Viral load for HCV grows overtime if adequate measures are not taken, eventually leading to a great damage to the liver and finally the whole body.