I am a 57-year-old white American male infected with Hepatitis C. I am involved in a controlled medical research study by Roche Pharmaceuticals of an experimental Polymerase Inhibitor (RO5024048 also known as RG7128) drug therapy for the virus. This document is the story of my illness and the experience of treatment. My lovely and pretty damn wonderful wife will be contributing her take on the experience as well.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Latest Viral Load Count – So Close…

When I checked the mailbox on the way home from work today, the envelope with my latest test results was there. The other two envelopes were my paycheck and my wife’s paycheck, but I didn’t register that until later. I wasn’t thinking about money. The only thing I was thinking about was whether those results would show my viral load was undetectable.

In situations like these (preparing to open the envelope bearing important news), you find that you’re still mentally a primitve creature. I’m not a god-botherer, as the Brits would say, but as I walked in the house I was chanting to myself, “Yes, this is it. Please be undetectable. Yes, this is the week. Come on, let’s see undetectable results.” I sat down at the kitchen table (okay, it was the table on the back porch but you get the picture), held the envelope, took a deep breath and opened it up.

My viral load numbers since the viral breakthrough have been: 40.000; 10,000; 5,000; 1,500; 990; 310 and 110 IU/ml. I was really hoping that I would get that final bump down but it didn’t quite happen. The number was 60 IU/ml. Undetectable on this test is 43. It’s been 13 weeks since I went back on full interferon dosing after the breakthrough and I’m not quite there yet. Seventeen of those little bits of viral DNA per milliliter are still hanging on in various nooks and crannies of my bloodstream.

Objectively, this is not the best news. The longer it takes you to reach undetectable levels the lower your percentage of having a sustained viral response at the end of your chemotherapy. But I’m going to keep the same attitude that I had at the beginning of the RO5024048 polymerase inhibitor trial just under ten months ago. Back then I refused to believe that I would not get the test drug and would end up in the placebo arm of the trial. Now, I refuse to believe that I will not be one of the 25% or so who obtain an SVR as slower responders.

I’m not as stubborn as my wife’s Irish ancestry allows her to be, but I have my own stubborn Polish fatalism going for me and I’m going to ride it to the finish. Primitive mentality yes, but it’s the only one I have.

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