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How Often Should You Get Tested For Hepatitis C

Are There Supplements That Are Good For My Liver

Hepatitis C: Should You Be Tested?

If a person eats a balanced diet, they will normally get enough vitamins and minerals. People with liver disease should avoid taking large amounts of supplements or “mega-vitamins.” This is because the liver has to do extra work to process them. Your provider may put you on a general multivitamin without iron.

Evaluation Of Individuals With Positive Screening Test

Patients with a positive screening test for anti-HCV antibody should be tested for serum HCV RNA. Serum HCV RNA quantifies the amount of viral RNA in serum and indicates ongoing infection. If HCV RNA is detectable, tests should be performed to determine the extent of hepatic fibrosis. These tests typically include liver biopsy or noninvasive measures, such as biochemical markers of fibrosis or transient elastography., An ultrasound of the abdomen should also be performed to identify the possible presence of cirrhosis and focal lesions in the liver suspicious for hepatic malignancy.

Patients who have a positive anti-HCV on a screening test but have no detectable HCV RNA should have a confirmatory HCV RNA test a few months later. If HCV RNA remains undetectable, these individuals should be reassured that they do not have hepatitis C infection and that the anti-HCV may remain persistently positive. Such individuals have either cleared the virus or the true specificity of the test is lower than the reported 100%, and the test result was a false positive.

What Does A Reactive Hcv Antibody Test Result Mean

A reactive or positive antibody test means you have been infected with the hepatitis C virus at some point in time.

Once people have been infected, they will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true if they have cleared the virus, have been cured, or still have the virus in their blood.

A reactive antibody test does not necessarily mean that you currently have hepatitis C and a follow-up test is needed.

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Uspstf Hcv Screening Recommendations

In March 2020, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued updated recommendations regarding screening for HCV. The USPSTF now recommends routine screening for all adults in the United States 18-79 years of age, including pregnant women . The 2020 USPSTF recommendation for HCV screening was categorized as a grade B recommendation, which means that the USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that screening for HCV in adults 18-79 years of age has substantial net benefit and that health care providers should offer this service . The USPSTF notes that most adults will require HCV screening only once, but those with ongoing risk of acquiring HCV will need periodic screening. For persons younger than 18 or older than 79 years of age, screening for HCV can be considered if the individual is considered at high risk for having acquired HCV. The 2020 USPSTF recommendations for HCV screening is clearly a major change from the prior 2013 USPSTF recommendations to screen adults born during 1945-1965 and those with known risk.

Persons New To Canada

Hepatitis C window period: When can you get tested?

Health care providers who see persons newly arrived in Canada should review the immunization status and update immunization for these individuals, as necessary. In many countries outside of Canada, HA vaccine is in limited use.

HA vaccination should be considered for all persons from HA-endemic countries. Individuals born in HA-endemic countries are more likely to be immune to HA therefore, serologic testing for immunity before HA immunization should be considered. If persons from HA-endemic countries are not immune, they should be offered HA immunization because they are at increased risk for HA exposure through visits to their country of origin, or when receiving friends and family from their country of origin.

In addition, persons new to Canada should be tested for hepatitis C antibody and susceptible persons chronically infected with hepatitis C should be vaccinated against HA and HB. Persons new to Canada should also be tested for HB and vaccinated against HA if found to be a HB carrier. Household or close contacts of children adopted from HA-endemic countries should be immunized with HA-containing vaccine. Adults travelling to pick up adopted children from HA-endemic countries should be vaccinated before departure.

Refer to Immunization of Persons New to Canada in Part 3 for additional information about vaccination of people who are new to Canada.

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What Is The Treatment For Hcv

There are several drugs that can be used to treat HCV infection. Most commonly, a combination of drugs is used, and new drugs are under development. Before 2000, chronic HCV was curable in only 10% of cases. Now, treatments for HCV can cure over 90% of people with hepatitis C before late complications occur, but even those with advanced liver disease often respond to treatment. This increases the opportunity to intervene early and prevent HCV-associated deaths.

  • According to the CDC, recent treatment guidelines recommend monitoring people with acute HCV but only considering treatment if the infection persists longer than 6 months.
  • Chronic HCV is usually treated with a combination of drugs.

Common And Local Adverse Events

HA vaccine

HA vaccine is well tolerated. Reactions are generally mild and transient, and are usually limited to soreness and redness at the injection site. Other less frequent reactions include headache, irritability, malaise, fever, fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms. Injection site reactions occur less frequently in children than in adults as do mild, systemic events . No significant difference in reactions is evident between initial and subsequent doses of vaccine or in the presence of pre-existing immunity.

HAHB vaccine

Refer to Hepatitis B Vaccine in Part 4 for information about HAHB vaccine.


Injection site reactions following receipt of standard human Ig include tenderness, erythema and stiffness of local muscles, which may persist for several hours. Mild fever or malaise may occasionally occur.

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Should I Get Screened If Im Pregnant

Doctors often recommend that pregnant people be tested, even if you are under 18 years old, since the number of hepatitis C infections has doubled in women between the ages of 15 to 44 in recent years. And because mothers can pass hep C on to their infants, screening at this level may produce benefits for two people, Dr. Barry says. The test is simple , minimally invasive, and takes virtually no time.

What Does A Hep C Test Involve

‘Hep Can’t Wait’: Why a local doctor says all adults should get tested for hepatitis

Any primary care doctor can order a hep C screening test. Its a simple blood test that looks for the presence of an antibody against the virus. Not everyone who has been exposed to the virus will still have an ongoing infection, so if the antibody test is positive, labs will run another test to look for the presence of the virus itself. This second test can be done using the same blood sample, so theres usually no need to go back.

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How Do You Get Tested For Hepatitis C

Several testing procedures are available to accurately diagnose hepatitis C infection.


Hepatitis C, an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus , often goes undiagnosed until serious liver problems develop decades after contracting the virus. This is because the illness is asymptomatic for most people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

For these asymptomatic people, hepatitis C is generally detected when blood screenings show they are HCV-positive, or routine examinations show they have elevated levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase , an indication of liver cell damage.

Dried Blood Spot Testing

Dried Blood Spot testing uses drops of blood from the end of your finger. It doesnt use a needle and syringe and you can do it free of charge in the privacy of your home. Your details and the results are kept private. If your test result shows you have hep C, the people who give your results can help you access hep C treatment and cure.

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What Is The Health Outlook For Someone With Hepatitis C

Thanks to DAAT therapy, the outlook for someone with hepatitis C is excellent. DAAT therapy cures 95% of people with hepatitis C. Even those who already have liver disease can have improved liver function after treatment. For those with advanced liver disease, DAAT treatment can lower the risk of getting liver cancer.

DAAT treatment is also available for children 3 years and older who have hepatitis C. For children younger than 3, a liver specialist will help determine when treatment should start.

What Does The Test Result Mean

Know The ABC

Screening and diagnosis

An HCV antibody test is typically reported as “positive” or “negative.”

Results of HCV viral load testing are reported as a number of virus copies present. If no virus is present or if the amount of virus is too low to detect, the result is often reported as “negative” or “not detected.”

Interpretation of the HCV screening and follow-up tests is shown in the table below.

  • In general, if your HCV antibody test is positive, then you have likely been infected at some time with hepatitis C.
  • If the laboratory reports results as weakly positive, most of these results are false positive and some laboratories will retest your sample with another test before reporting it as positive.
  • If your HCV RNA test is positive, then you have a current infection.
  • If no HCV viral RNA is detected, then you either do not have an active infection or the virus is present in very low numbers.
HCV Antibody
Negative No infection or it is too soon after exposure and HCV antibody has not yet developed if suspicion remains high, an HCV RNA test is done.
Past infection or no infection
Positive Current, active infection

Guiding and monitoring treatment

The result of your HCV genotype test identifies which strain of HCV you have and helps guide the selection and the length of your treatment. Treatments may differ depending on a variety of factors, including HCV genotype and the health of your liver.

An HCV viral load can indicate whether or not treatment is effective.

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Preventing The Spread Of Hepatitis C

There is no vaccine available to prevent a person from being infected with hepatitis C. Recommended behaviours to prevent the spread of the virus include:

  • Always use sterile injecting equipment. This can be accessed from your local needle and syringe program service.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, nail files or nail scissors, which can draw blood.
  • If you are involved in body piercing, tattooing, electrolysis or acupuncture, always ensure that any instrument that pierces the skin is either single use or has been cleaned, disinfected and sterilised since it was last used.
  • If you are a healthcare worker, follow standard precautions at all times.
  • Wherever possible, wear single-use gloves if you give someone first aid or clean up blood or body fluids.
  • Although hepatitis C is not generally considered to be a sexually transmissible infection in Australia, you may wish to consider safe sex practices if blood is going to be present, or if your partner has HIV infection. You may wish to further discuss this issue and personal risks with your doctor.

Born Between 1945 And 1965 Get Tested For Hepatitis C


If you’re like most people, you’ve heard of hepatitis but aren’t sure what it is or who it can affect. Surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimate that about three to four million Americans have a type of viral hepatitis , but most don’t know they have it. Which population is most impacted? Baby boomers.

“Hepatitis C is the largest infectious disease outbreak of our time because it lived in our blood and tissue supply for years until we identified it in 1989. Before that, people were unknowingly exposed to hepatitis C, reports Jill Wolf, LCSW, the hepatitis C program director for the Caring Ambassadors Program, a national nonprofit organization that helps educate communities about the disease.

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How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed

There are two blood tests needed to diagnose chronic hepatitis C.

  • Antibody test

This test checks whether someone has ever been exposed to the virus. It doesn’t determine whether the virus is present now or was there in the past. After you have had the virus this test will always be positive, even after you’ve been cured.

  • Hepatitis C viral load

This test counts the amount of virus particles present in someone’s blood. If not detected then it means the person does not have hepatitis C. If the virus is present it will give a number . If the virus is present you should speak to their healthcare provider about starting hepatitis C treatment. This is the main test used in New Zealand to confirm current infection.

  • HCV RNA/hepatitis C antigen test

This tests looks for virus particles. It will give a positive or negative result. If negative it means the virus isn’t present and you don’t have hepatitis C. If positive it means the virus is present and you should speak to their healthcare provider about starting hepatitis C treatment. This test does not need to be done if an HCV RNA test has already been done.

I have hepatitis C. How can I be treated?

Regional district health boards manage hepatitis C patient services. Contact your GP if you think you have hepatitis C or would like to access treatment. If you have questions about hepatitis C or need support please contact us.

If you live elsewhere please see your GP for referral to a hepatitis C programme near you.

How Can I Tell If I Am Contagious And Can Spread The Infection To Others

What is Hepatitis C and Why Should You Care?

If you have detectable HCV RNA in your blood, you have the potential to spread the disease to other people. Hepatitis C is spread by exposure to contaminated blood. The most common mechanism of exposure is the sharing of needles or other ‘works’ used in consuming drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Other routes of transmission include use of contaminated equipment for body piercing and tattooing, occupational exposure of healthcare workers to used needles or other sharp objects, and, less commonly, through sexual activity that results in tissue tears or from mother to baby during childbirth.

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    Are There Barriers To Hep C Screening

    Despite the recommendation that all adults be screened, less than one in five people is currently tested for the disease, according to several large studies. One issue is access to primary care, particularly for the uninsured. Another has been the reluctance to be labeled in a high-risk group, because people dont remember or want to admit to experimenting with intravenous drugs. The new guidelines aim to ease the stigma, saying every adult should have access to screening without being questioned as to why they want the test.

    Hepatitis C Testing Types

    Testing for hep C starts off with a hep C antibody test. This test looks for human antibodies something that your body produces to fight the virus. If your hep C antibody test result is positive, then it means you have been exposed to the hep C virus at some point.

    If you get a positive antibody result, then your sample of blood is tested again using a PCR test. This test looks for parts of the actual hep C virus. If the PCR test result is positive it means that you have hep C. Have a look at our Hep C Testing chart for more info on hep C tests.

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    Persons With Chronic Diseases

    Refer to Immunization of Persons with Chronic Diseases in Part 3 for additional general information about vaccination of people with chronic diseases.

    Chronic renal disease and patients on dialysis

    HA vaccine is recommended for people with chronic renal disease or undergoing dialysis if they are at increased risk of HA infection or severe HA . A study assessing the immune response of hemodialysis patients to standard doses of HA vaccine demonstrated a good HA antibody response and no serious adverse effects.

    Chronic liver disease

    HA immunization is recommended for susceptible persons with chronic liver disease, including those infected with hepatitis C and chronic HB carriers, because they are at risk of more severe disease if infection occurs. Vaccination should be completed early in the course of the disease, as the immune response to vaccine is suboptimal in advanced liver disease.

    Non-malignant hematologic disorders

    Symptoms Of Hepatitis C


    It is very important to know that not everyone with hepatitis C has symptoms. The only way to know if you have hepatitis is by talking to your doctor and getting a blood test.

    Many people living with hepatitis C feel well and only have symptoms once the disease has progressed and there is serious liver damage.

    If you do not have symptoms this does not mean that the virus isnt causing damage.

    When first infected, some people may find:

    • their urine becomes dark
    • their eyes and skin turn yellow
    • they experience a minor flu-like illness.

    These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, but this does not necessarily mean that the infection has been cleared.

    Over time, symptoms that may develop include:

    • tiredness and fatigue
    • flu-like symptoms
    • pain in the abdomen where the liver is located
    • not feeling hungry and indigestion.

    Around 30% of people who have been infected may clear the virus from their blood naturally, with no treatment, within 6 months. These people no longer have the hepatitis C virus and are not infectious, but will always have hepatitis C antibodies in their blood. The presence of hepatitis C antibodies shows that someone has been exposed to the virus, but does not offer any immunity against hepatitis C. People can become reinfected after clearing the virus naturally, or after treatment.

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