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Hepatitis C Virus Tests

What To Think About

  • There is no vaccine to prevent infections with the hepatitis C virus.
  • Hepatitis 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.
  • Many 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.

Citations

  1. Smith BD, et al. (2012). Recommendations for the identification of chronic hepatitis C virus infection among persons born during 1945–1965. MMWR, 61(RR-4): 1–32. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6104a1.htm.

  2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2013). Screening for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adults: Recommendation Statement. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspshepc.htm.

Other Works Consulted

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003). Guidelines for laboratory testing and result reporting of antibody to hepatitis C virus. MMWR, 52(RR-03): 1–16. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5203a1.htm.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

  • Scott JD, Gretch DR (2007). Molecular diagnostics of hepatitis C virus infection: A systematic review. JAMA, 297(7): 724–732.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
Current as ofAugust 16, 2013
1|2|3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 16, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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