Hepatitis is an inflamed liver, most often caused by the hepatitis C, or "hep C," virus. SVR stands for sustained virologic response. It means that 12 weeks or more after you stop treatment, tests can’t find the hepatitis C virus in your blood.
At that point, the virus is very unlikely to return. This is the goal of treatment for hepatitis C.
How Do You Treat Hepatitis C?
Medications known as direct acting antivirals, or DAAs, stop the hep C virus from making copies of itself. Some of the newer DAAs appear to work well on all types of hepatitis C. (Each type of hep C is known as a genotype because of its different genetic makeup.)
When you're diagnosed with hep C, your doctor will probably prescribe some combination of DAA drugs for 8-12 weeks. They could include:
Some medications combine two of these drugs into one pill.
But these medicines may not be right for everyone because of cost, your other health issues, or other reasons. Before choosing a treatment, your doctor will check whether you are pregnant or have:
- Hepatitis B (or have had it before)
- Kidney disease
- Previous treatment for hep C
- Liver cancer or are at high risk for it
- A liver transplant
Still, DAAs work for hepatitis C in more than 90% of cases. Sometimes, your doctor has to add other drugs or adjust your dose or the length of your treatment.
Does SVR Mean Cured?
If blood tests can’t detect hep C 12 weeks or more after you finish treatment, in 99% of cases you'll stay free of the virus for the rest of your life.
Once you reach SVR, you can’t pass the virus on to other people. You still can’t give blood, though. Some doctors might test for hep C one more time, 6-12 months after you reach SVR. But you're most likely cured at this point.
Your doctor may continue to watch your liver damage and function, especially if your hepatitis was far along or if you have other serious health issues.
You can also reinfect yourself with hep C. And it can be harder to treat the second time around. Common ways you can get infected again include:
- Shared needles for IV drug users
- Sexual partners, especially for IV drug users
- Shared razors or toothbrushes
- Homemade tattoo equipment
Does SVR Help My Liver?
SVR stops damage to your liver from hepatitis C. It can slow or stop liver disease if you have it. Your liver starts to do its job better, and important substances called enzymes usually return to normal levels. It might even improve your results of treatment for liver cancer.