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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Hepatitis C Virus Tests
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) test is a blood test that looks for the genetic material (RNA) of the virus that causes hepatitis or for the proteins (antibodies) the body makes against HCV. These proteins will be present in your blood if you have a hepatitis C infection now or have had one in the past. Different tests are used to get this information.
It's important to identify the type of hepatitis virus causing the infection, to prevent its spread and choose the proper treatment. HCV is spread through infected blood.
There is no vaccine available to prevent hepatitis C.
You may need these tests if:
The tests also are done to help your doctor decide about your treatment and see how well it works.
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.
A home test kit is available for hepatitis C (HCV). The kit contains a sharp device (lancet) that you use to take 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 ready in 10 days. You'll get an ID number to use when calling a toll-free number to obtain confidential results. If the results of the test are positive, it's important for you to make an appointment with your doctor to confirm the test results, find out the amount of damage to your liver, and see if antiviral therapy is an option.
When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.
Results of hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing that show no infection are called negative. This means that no antibodies against HCV and no HCV genetic material was found. Results are usually ready in 5 to 7 days.
No hepatitis C antibodies are found.
No hepatitis C genetic material (RNA) is found.
Hepatitis C antibodies are found. A test to detect HCV RNA is needed to find out if the infection is current or if it occurred in the past. If HCV RNA is found, genotyping can find out which strain of HCV is causing the infection.
Hepatitis C RNA is found. This result means a current hepatitis C virus infection.
Hepatitis antibodies can take weeks to develop. So your results may be negative even though you are in the early stage of an infection.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineW. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
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