What if the treatment doesn't work?


Treatment is regarded as a success if Hepatitis C cannot be detected in your blood some months after treatment. This is referred to as a Sustained Viral Response (SVR) and means you have cleared the virus. However, treatment is not successful for everyone. People who fail to clear the virus are often referred to as null or partial responders or relapsers.

The therapeutic advances in HCV therapy have currently been mainly in genotype 1 and we have reached a stage where regimens 97-100% are effective. Genotype 3 treatments are currently in phase 3 (last stage) trials and are likely to have similar efficacy. If one treatment does not produce a cure one of the others available is now likely to work.


Null or partial responders

A person who does not manage to reduce the amount of Hepatitis C RNA (viral load) in their blood by at least 100 times after 12 weeks of treatment is a null responder. A partial responder is someone who manages to reduce their Hepatitis C RNA (viral load) by at least 100 times but does not fully remove the virus from their blood by week 24 of treatment. Being a null or parial responder indicates you are unlikely or less likely to achieve a sustained viral response and your healthcare professional will discuss with you what options are available in going forward with treatment (response guided therapy).



A person with no detectable virus at the end of treatment but for whom the virus can then be detected (HCV RNA positive) a number of months later.



If treatment doesn't work first time, you will be able to talk to your doctor about trying again. You may be considered for retreatment depending on your previous response and course of treatment. Then, the drugs, dosage and length of treatment are altered to offer an increased chance of success.

See also

Hepatitis C Trust: Retreatment

Hepatitis C Scotland


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