Hepatitis C Virus Tests
hepatitis C virus (HCV) test is a blood test that
looks for the genetic material (RNA) of the hepatitis C virus or for the proteins (antibodies) the body makes against HCV.
Results of hepatitis C virus testing that show no infection are called
negative. This means that no antibodies against HCV or HCV genetic material was
found. Results are usually available in 5 to 7 days.
Hepatitis C virus tests
No hepatitis C antibodies are found.
No hepatitis C genetic material (RNA) is
| Abnormal (positive):
Hepatitis C antibodies are found. A test to detect HCV RNA
is needed to determine whether the infection is current or occurred in the
past. If HCV RNA is found, genotyping can determine which strain of HCV is
causing the infection.
Hepatitis C RNA is detected. This
result means a current hepatitis C virus infection.
What Affects the Test
Many conditions can change HCV
antibody levels. Your doctor will talk with you about any abnormal results that
may be related to your symptoms and past health.
may need to be rechecked if you are taking some herbs, supplements, or other alternative medicine products.
What To Think About
- There is no vaccine to prevent
infections with the hepatitis C virus.
antibodies can take weeks to develop, so your results
may be negative even though you are in the early stage of an infection (false-negative).
- All donated blood and
organs are tested for hepatitis C before being used.
- Other tests
that show how well the liver is working are usually done if your doctor thinks
you may have hepatitis C. These may include blood tests for bilirubin, alkaline
phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate aminotransferase.
states require that some types of hepatitis infections be reported to the local
health department. The health department can then send out a warning to other
people who may have been infected with the hepatitis virus, such as those who
are close contacts of someone who has hepatitis C.
- A home test kit
is available for hepatitis C (HCV). The kit contains a sharp instrument
(lancet) that you use to draw a small sample of blood from your fingertip. The
blood sample is then placed on a piece of collection paper and mailed in a
prepaid envelope to a lab for testing. Results are available in 10 days. You
are given an identification number to use when calling a toll-free number to
obtain confidential results. If the results of the test are positive, it is
important for you to make an appointment with your doctor to
confirm the test results, determine the amount of damage to your liver, and
determine whether antiviral therapy is an option.