I'm going to disagree with a few people here, just based on my own experience and those of friends who have or have had hep c and what docs have told me. Since the PCR test came out to test for the virus, the medical community has found that there are many many people who have antibodies to hepc that do not have any trace of the virus. They have had some people sero convert, which means they no longer have the antibodies. Because hepc is so easy to spread, much more easy than aids, and there is no known reason why even a mosquito would not spread it, many hepatologists have come to believe that lots of people are exposed to hepc but fight it off, they may or may not have antibodies. This also comes from family studies of people with hepc who did not spread it though the virus should have spread. This being said, there are some people for who the virus goes into remission, but a remission longer than a year is considered to be "cured" since there have been no people that have come out of remission after a year.
Yes, autoimmune problems come with hepc, hepc causes hashimotos and other autoimmune endocrine diseases because your body fights so hard to kill the hepc virus that your immune system goes into overdrive. Many diseases can cause autoimmune disease in this way. A high ANA is typical with hepatitis C and treatment with interferon alpha is known to cause sle and to cause a lupus negative person to develop anti-ds-dna antibodies. I was initially diagnosed with a lupus-like autoimmune disease resulting from a past hepc infection and/or its treatment. Vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disease, is common with hepatitis disease and I believe hep c is mentioned as a cause for secondary lupus. These really bad diseases, like hepc, that last a long time and may become chronic always have the potential to damage the immune system. Also, the liver plays an integral role in immune responses so damage or inflammation is going to affect how the liver works. Sjogrens syndrome is a common problem that runs with hepatitis C. And unfortunately some people have autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis c as well and the treatments are completely opposite and these people have it very hard.
Doctors try to treat the hepatitis c before it attacks the immune system and other parts of the body, because the treatment (interferon alpha) makes the autoimmune complications worse. Hepatologists believe that the hepatitis caused immune system problems will go away once the hepa*** virus is eradicated or put into remission. Many people have had permanent damage, though the hepatitis virus is gone.
I have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which also causes autoimmune problems and perhaps is caused by autoimmune problems. It is tied with diabetes and endocrine deficiencies and other ai problems. I was diagnosed due to polyendocrine deficiency and skin pigment problems. Primary Biliary Cirrhosis is another autoimmune liver disease that also has components of a lupus like syndrome and maybe tied to lupus.
Having anti-bodies to double stranded dna or anti-mitochondrial antibodies can cause you to develop a number of different autoimmune problems, I don'tknow why some people get some things and some people get others. The docs use these as markers because people who have anti-ds-dna often have lupus.
It is possible to test false positive to hep c surface antigen (have antibodies to hep c) and a RIBA test is done to determine if your positive is really a real positive or a false positive. In my case, the RIBA was inconclusive. Everyone on my dad's side of the family tests positive for hep c antibodies, but none of them have ever tested positive for the virus, nor do they have damage to their livers that would be expected with hep c. We all do have non-alcoholic fatty liver.
I used to have a link to a great rheumatology article about the effects of cytokine and anticytokine (cytokines=interferons) and it clearly spelled out that doctors have known for some time that interferon alpha will cause a patient to develop anti-ds-dna and to develop SLE lupus. They also know that the disease itself can cause a lupus like condition or secondary lupus because the body's defense against the virus is to raise its natural levels of interferons which will cause lupus.
The other thing you need to know is that hep c is very contagious when active, and there are frequent problems with contaminations in labs, the tests are relatively new. I've had at least two wrong lab results due to contamination in the lab, and not only my results but everyone they did for the past few days came out wrong. This may explain things. It is also possible that rosies sil has been in remission long enough they believe that she has fought off the virus on her own, usually the virus recurs within a year, remissions of a year or longer are considered to be cures. Remember that many people with hep c may get the disease again after many years of being cured due to repeated risky behavior.
I have never tested postive for the virus, though I was considered to have had it and fought it off and left with ai complications. I do believe many people fight it off and people with hyper immune systems may have extra protection against the virus and may fight it off easier, I don't know. But I had antibodies, but was left with ai disease and no hep c virus.
Primary (genetic passed down from parents dna) lupus and hep c are not related, but hepc can cause secondary lupus (lupus with no anti-ds-dna) and treatment for hepc with interferon alpha can definitely cause you to develop anti-ds-dna and sle lupus.
lupus and interferon alpha
Extrahepatic manifestations: systemic lupus erythematosis
Patient who got lupus from interferon tx for hep c
This is just some of the stuff. There hasn't been any good studies confirming the connection between hepc and lupus, but while lupus cannot cause hep c, it is possible for hep c to cause sjogrens and other lupus like problems, and tx for hepc can and often does cause lupus.
Hope this helps. I'm someone who definitely had a horrible experience on interferon because I already had autoimmune disease and I never should have been given it. All that aside. I know it does cause severe autoimmune problems.
--Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less in human beings of whom they know nothing.--Voltaire (1694-1778)
Ills--Sjogrens-Lupus-like AI Disease, Hashis, Vitiligo, spinal stenosis/fusion with plate, salivary/lymphectomies, Diabetes, NAFLD, COPD, RLS, neuropathy, trigonitis, hystero, diffuse brain atrophy
Meds--Plaquenil, Evoxac, Metformin, Synthroid, HCTZ, Estradiol patch, Prosed, Klonopin, Soma, Ultram, Vicodin, Restasis, Albuterol,steroid injections, Protopic & Triamcinolone Acetonide ointments