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Hepatitis C Viral Load

Understanding the Numbers

People often wonder, "What does this number mean?" Because the significance of the exact hepatitis C viral load number is not known, recommendations are generally made by grouping of "high" or "low" viral load, rather than exact levels. Generally, the cutoff for high and low hepatitis C viral load is approximately 1 million IU/mL, which is equivalent to 2 million RNA copies/mL. The different numbers are used because differences exist in how the test results are expressed. Results are usually expressed as International Units/mL (IU/mL) or RNA copies/mL.
Most patients with chronic hepatitis C have a viral load between 100,000 and 10,000,000 RNA copies/mL. Expressed as IU, these averages are 50,000 to 5 million IU/mL.

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