The viral load of hepatitis C refers to the amount of virus present in the bloodstream. The quantitative HCV RNA tests measure the amount of hepatitis C virus in the blood. The result will be an exact number, such as "1,215,422 IU/L." Many people refer to the quantitative measurement as the hepatitis C "viral load."
Viral load tests are used to confirm active hepatitis C infection and are used during treatment to help determine response. If you have lower levels of virus in your blood when you start treatment, you may have a better chance of getting rid of the virus.
Other things to know:
- The viral load measurement does not tell us anything about the severity of a patient's liver disease or the degree of fibrosis (scarring). For that information, the patient would need additional testing.
- It is not necessary to check the viral load repeatedly during treatment.
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