Achieving sustained virologic response (SVR) to antiviral therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important step for eliminating HCV infection worldwide. However, recurrence of HCV viremia may occur due to HCV reinfection and confirmation of the long-term absence of HCV viremia, i.e., the absence of HCV reinfection, is necessary in post-SVR patients. In this report, we studied the long-term results of serum HCV RNA measurements in patients with SVR in whom serum HCV RNA was monitored over decades.
Serum HCV RNA was measured at every visit in a total of 1,392 SVR patients who underwent regular visits to the hospital after SVR, of whom 434 patients (31.2%) had continued regular visits for more than 10 years.
No patients demonstrated positive serum HCV RNA during follow-up after SVR with a total of 23,187 HCV RNA tests.
This study confirmed the absence of reinfection with HCV in Japanese general population with SVR for decades. Once HCV had been eradicated by anti-HCV therapy, HCV infection rarely recurs even in a lifetime in Japan, unless patients are in high risk group of HCV infection and drop out for follow-up.