Because many people don't have symptoms, it's common for people to have hepatitis C for 15 years or longer before it is diagnosed. Many people don't find out that they have the virus until they are tested for some other reason, such as when donating blood. Experts recommend that all adults born from 1945 to 1965 should be tested for hepatitis C.4, 5 People in this age group are more likely to have hepatitis C and not know it.
It is important to be tested for hepatitis C if you:
Have signs or symptoms of liver disease, such as abnormal liver tests.
Check your liverenzymes to see if they are high. This may be the first sign that you have the virus.
Tests for the hepatitis C virus
If your doctor thinks that you may have hepatitis C, he or she may order:
A hepatitis C virus test. This is a blood test that looks for antibodies against the hepatitis C virus. It shows whether you have been exposed to the virus. A rapid test is available that gives results in 20 minutes.
A blood test that looks for the genetic material (RNA) of the hepatitis C virus. This test shows whether you are infected with the virus now.
A blood test to find out the kind of hepatitis C virus (genotype) you have. Knowing your genotype will help you and your doctor decide if and how you should be treated.