Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size

New Test Will Make Hepatitis C Diagnosis Easier


If the screening test comes back positive, it is time to look more closely, he says. That is the stage when AMPLICOR can be useful. "We need to discover who has active infection," he says.

Active infection means that the blood has hundreds of thousands of copies of the virus, a condition called viremia, says Fried. The new test, which uses polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, technology, isolates the amount of HCV ribonucleic acid -- the genetic building blocks of the virus -- in the blood. "This test gives us a simple yes-no answer," says Fried.

Getting that answer then determines who should be given the powerful drugs used to treat HCV.

The drug therapy, a combination of interferon and ribavarin, is highly toxic and causes symptoms ranging from nausea, exhaustion and headaches to severe depression. Patients are typically put on the drug regimen for a year. Fried says that the new test can also be used to "monitor response to drug therapy."

People who have the HCV antibody but don't have active infection don't require drug therapy, says Fried.

Fried says that liver disease specialists are already using PCR technology to test for viral load in HCV patients but those tests "were not standardized and not reproducible." He says the new test is "more sensitive that other tests" and because it expresses findings in international units, or IU, "it is reproducible in any hospital or any lab."

Keith Cristie, marketing manager for Roche Diagnostics, tells WebMD that hospitals and labs will probably "bill between $100 and $150 for the test."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Hepatitus C virus
Types, symptoms and treatments.
liver illustration
Myths and facts about this essential organ.
woman eating apple
What you need to know.
doctor and patient
What causes it?
Hepatitis C Treatment
Syringes and graph illustration
liver illustration
passport, pills and vaccine
Scientist looking in microscope
Fatty Liver Disease
Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
Picture Of The Liver
Image Collection