Hello and thank you for your question.
Could you please tell me approximately how many years have you had the infection? Do you happen to know the year you were infected?
Thank you for your reply.
So it sounds that you've had the infection for the last 20 years or so. In the last 20 years you have progressed to Stage 2 (out of 4 stages) of fibrosis. Fibrosis means scar tissue. When liver biopsy is done, to quantify the damage to the liver, this system of 0-4 is used. Stage 4 means cirrhosis, stage 0 means no scar tissue. So you are right in the middle.
I completely understand your doubts about treatment. Treatment, unfortunately, causes horrible side effects and you have to go through the treatment for 12 months. Also, Type 1A Hepatitis C is resistant to the treatment, with good results of eradication in 65-70% of cases, which leaves about 30% of people still with the virus after the treatment.
However, the good news about going through treatment is that you still have a 70% chance of getting rid of the virus and even if you do not get rid of the virus completely, treatment will help reverse the damage done to your liver. The scarring may go down from stage 2 to stage 1. That is very important.
I, personally, think that waiting for the new drugs is not a great idea. We dont know when something new is coming out and, even if something new is coming out soon, we dont know how effective it will be. The older you get, the more difficult it will be to handle side effects of treatment. Also, there is no way to predict with what speed the virus will continue damaging your liver. You may remain in stage 2 for the next 10 years or the scarring can get worse in the next 3-4 years and you will progress into liver cirrhosis.
So, in my opinion, you should start the treatment. If you body does not get rid of the virus, you will at least improve the damage already done to the liver. This will give you more time to wait for newer drugs to come out. Also, you have to think positive throughout this entire treatment. You have to keep saying "I will get rid of the virus" and truly believe that. I cannot reinforce importance of positive thinking.
I hope you find this information helpful. If you need any clarification or have any additional questions, please let me know and I will be glad to assist you further.
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Do you have any other questions I might be able to answer for you? Anything that I can clarify?
There definitely are many many side effects from the treatment. It feels like you have flu-like symptoms for an entire cycle of treatment. Sometimes there are skin side effects with rashes, sometimes thyroid can become dysfunctional, often depression is also a side effect of treatment. If you are the sole provider and cannot miss work, this will be very difficult.
In my experience, eradication of the virus is about 60% with Type 1A.
If you completely avoid alcohol and things that irritate liver (fried foods, Tylenol) you will most likely be ok waiting until 2012 to start treatment. You've had the virus for about 20 years and so far, it only progressed to stage 2, so chances are you will not progress further, or at least you will not progress to stage 4 (cirrhosis) in the next 2 years. However, the problem with waiting for a new drug to come out, is that there is a chance that it will be pulled off the market before coming out. This cannot be predicted. Something goes wrong in the clinical trials and the drug gets pulled. It has happened before with other drugs.
There are pros and cons to the treatment and ultimately the decision is yours. Yes, there will be side effects and yes, there is only a 60% chance of getting rid of the virus, however, you do reduce further damage to the liver and stop the virus from replicating.
I know I am not giving you a yes or no treatment, however, I am unable to do that. That, again, is ultimately your decision. There is no urgency in starting treatments today or tomorrow. You can wait and think about it for the next month or so. If you do not feel comfortable with the treatment, then you shouldn't start it. This is going to be a life-changing experience for you and, until you are ready, you should not start. You know the pros and the cons of treatment as well as the pros and the cons of no treatment, and you have to weight them. No one can guarantee you that your liver will remain in stage 2 level for the next 2 years, however, statistically speaking, it should remain there.
Please feel free to let me know if you have any other questions. I will be glad to assist you further. I am here to help.
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I absolutely agree with you. There are many good things on your side. Try to stay positive no matter what. If you have never read a book my Lance Armtrong about his battle with cancer, I would suggest you do. It shows how positive thinking can help someone in their battle with the disease.
Good luck to you.