Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide


Viral load testing and cure

A healthcare provider may recommend hepatitis C viral load testing at different stages:

Before beginning treatment

A baseline viral load measurement provides information about the amount of hepatitis C in the blood before treatment is initiated. As treatment continues, this baseline viral load may be compared to the viral loads taken during and after treatment.

During treatment

Some healthcare providers may do a viral load test during treatment if they have concerns about whether someone is adhering to treatment. A high viral load may indicate that there is not enough drug in the person’s system to fight the virus. It does not measure how well hepatitis C treatment is working.  

Immediately after completing treatment

Some healthcare providers check to see if the virus is undetectable immediately after completing treatment. An undetectable virus immediately after completing treatment does not necessarily mean that a person is cured of hepatitis C.

Twelve weeks after the end of treatment

Twelve weeks after the end of treatment, the healthcare provider will determine if a person has been cured of hepatitis C. The healthcare provider will do a test the blood to see if the hepatitis C virus remains undetectable. An undetectable viral load at this point is called a sustained virological response (SVR), and means that hepatitis C has been cured.

Terms describing treatment responses

Sustained virological response: when a person has an undetectable viral load twelve weeks after the end of treatment. This is also known as a cure.

Relapse: when a person has an undetectable viral load at the end of treatment, and then has a detectable viral load twelve weeks later.

Resources for service providers

Resources for clients

Revised 2018.