If I'm infected with hepatitis C and not treated, how likely is the infection to become chronic?
Answer From Stacey A. Rizza, M.D.
The period right after you're infected with hepatitis C virus is known as the acute stage of infection. Some people with acute hepatitis C do not progress to the chronic stage of infection. This is called spontaneous viral clearance. Rates of spontaneous viral clearance vary somewhat from study to study, from as low as 15% to as high as 50% — though the average is around 25%.
Unfortunately, there's no way to predict whether you'll be one of the lucky ones who will escape chronic hepatitis C. Even if doctors could make such a prediction, it wouldn't help most people with early hepatitis C because the acute infection rarely causes signs and symptoms.
Further research may explain exactly how spontaneous hepatitis C virus clearance occurs, paving the way for treatment and vaccine development.
Stacey A. Rizza, M.D.
Nov. 05, 2019
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