Is It Possible To Get A False Negative
As previously discussed, the first test that is given to someone who questions their hepatitis C status is the ELISA test, which looks for antibodies in the body.
When a hepatitis C infection is brand new, the human body has not yet gathered antibodies to fight that infection. This means that, if the test is performed too early, an ELISA test will give a negative result, because there are not yet enough antibodies present â not because there is no hep C virus.
Unfortunately, many receive a negative result and choose not to get tested for a long period of time, continuing to carry the virus without realizing it.
In addition, some bodies can be so immunocompromised that their bodies may not be able to make enough antibodies to provide a positive ELISA test.
Who Should Get Tested
The only way that one can know if they have hepatitis C is if to get tested. HCV testing is recommended for any anyone who is at increased risk of HCV infection. Such people include:
- Persons born from 1945 through 1965
- Persons who have ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected only once, many years ago
- Persons who received clotting factor concentrates that were made before 1987
- Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants before July 1992
- Patients who have ever received long-term hemodialysis treatment
- Persons with known exposures to HCV, such as healthcare workers after a needle stick involving HCV positive blood and recipients of blood or organs from a donor who later tested positive for HCV
- All persons with HIV
You May Like: How Would You Know If You Have Hepatitis C
Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis C
According to the CDC, the following groups are at risk for the HCV infection:
- Current or former injection drug users, including those who injected only once many years ago
- Recipients of clotting factor concentrates made before 1987, when less advanced methods for manufacturing those products were used
- Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants prior to July 1992, before better testing of blood donors became available
- Chronic hemodialysis patients
- People with known exposures to HCV, such as health care workers after needle sticks involving HCV-positive blood
- recipients of blood or organs from a donor who tested HCV-positive
- People with HIV infection
- Children born to HCV-positive mothers
- Baby Boomers
Also Check: What Is Hepatitis B Caused By
Limitations Of Screening For Hepatitis C
Barriers to screening for hepatitis C include limited access to healthcare, inadequate health insurance coverage, individuals’ decreasing recall of past risky behaviors, lack of knowledge of hepatitis C prevalence, natural history, and available tests and treatments for hepatitis C at the provider level.29–32 Moreover, nearly 42% of primary care physicians reported being unfamiliar with the CDC guidelines in a survey of community-based physicians.33
Testing For Hepatitis C
To diagnose a hepatitis C infection, doctors use a hepatitis C antibody test, which is a blood test. The test must have the approval of the Food and Drug Administration .
The hepatitis C antibody can show if a persons body has made any antibodies to HCV. If they have, this indicates that they have had the infection at some point in their lives.
Some people have the infection at some time, but their immune system eliminates the virus after a few months. In others, the body is unable to fight off the virus, leading to chronic hepatitis C infection. Many people will not experience any symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly.
A non-reactive or negative test result will generally indicate that a person does not have HCV. However, if the person has the test during the window period, they could receive inaccurate results.
If the person knows when exposure occurred, a doctor may recommend waiting a few weeks before repeating the test.
A reactive or positive result tells a doctor that the person has had an HCV infection at some point in their lives. The result indicates that their body has created antibodies to fight the virus.
However, this does not mean that a person still has active HCV. Even if their immune system has eliminated the virus, they will still have the antibodies.
Recommended Reading: How Serious Is Hepatitis A
Natural History Of Reinfection
As recorded in chimpanzees, evidence indicates that HCV RNA concentrations after reinfection in people are lower, generally more transient, and shorter in duration than during initial infection. In a longitudinal study of IDUs, median duration of HCV viraemia was four times longer during initial infection than during reinfection and peak median log HCV RNA concentration was lower , suggesting people develop adaptive protective immunity .
HCV infection, clearance, and reinfection
HCV reinfection events after spontaneous clearance have lower HCV RNA concentrations and shorter infection durations than initial HCV infection. HCV=hepatitis C virus.
However, Osburn and colleagues detected new HCV-specific T-cell responses and cross-reactive neutralising antibodies in reinfected individuals who did not clear reinfection. Therefore, although improved cellular and humoral immune responses play a part in control of reinfection, they are probably not sufficient for protection against HCV reinfection with persistence in all cases. Further longitudinal investigation of adaptive immunity during primary infection and reinfection is necessary for reliable identification of the characteristics of protective immunity associated with repeated clearance of HCV infection and hence for future vaccine research.
What Is An Hcv Antibody Test
An HCV antibody test is used to determine whether youve contracted the hepatitis C virus.
The test looks for antibodies, which are proteins made by the immune system that are released into the bloodstream when the body detects a foreign substance, such as a virus.
HCV antibodies indicate exposure to the virus at some point in the past. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get results back.
. The blood panel will either show that you have a nonreactive result or a reactive result.
Also Check: Royal Canin Hepatic Cat Food
Letsgetchecked Hepatitis B And C Test
- Price: $$
- Pros: tests for both hepatitis B and C, includes option to speak with a nurse if you test positive
- Cons: no option to test for hepatitis C only
If you want to buy a hepatitis C test from LetsGetChecked, you have to buy the hepatitis B and C testing bundle.
The hepatitis B surface antigen test checks for hepatitis B specific antigens and antibodies in the blood to determine if you have an active infection. A positive test means you can transmit the virus, but it cannot tell you if you have a chronic or acute infection.
Additionally, a negative test will only tell you that youre not currently contagious. You can test negative and still have hepatitis B. LetsGetChecked does not include this info on the product page. It may still be important to visit a doctor to determine if you have the virus and what stage its in.
Testing for hepatitis C involves an HCV antibody test. Youll need additional testing if you test positive for HCV antibodies.
Tests from LetsGetChecked should be safe and accurate when used as directed. Still, you should talk with your doctor about your results.
Both the hepatitis B and C tests involve taking a finger-prick sample. You can take the sample in the morning and send it back the same day.
Results should arrive within 2 to 5 business days. If either test returns a positive result, a nurse will get in touch to go over what this means. However, we recommend also going over your results with your doctor.
How Hepatitis C Is Diagnosed
To determine a hepatitis C diagnosis, your doctor will:
- Get your medical history .
- Perform a physical exam, especially checking for changes in skin color, swelling in your lower extremities, and tenderness in your abdomen.
- Order certain diagnostic blood tests.
The first diagnostic tool in the screening process is a blood test that screens for HCV antibodies proteins the body produces in response to the virus. An enzyme immunoassay is used to perform this test.
A negative result for the antibody test could mean that youve never had HCV in your blood or your body has not yet produced the HCV antibody , and you may need to be tested again in a few months. A positive result means you were exposed to the virus at some point in your life. Up to half of people spontaneously clear the virus from their blood within six months of contracting it.
If you have a positive antibody test, your doctor will then use another blood sample to conduct a polymerase chain reaction test, which looks for the presence or absence of RNA of HCV in your blood.
Your doctor may also order an HCV RNA test while you are undergoing treatment to find out if the amount of virus in your blood is changing.
You May Like: Hepatitis C And Liver Transplantation
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.
Also Check: How Does Someone Catch Hepatitis C
Specific Hcv Rna Assays And Range Of Detectable Virus
HCV RNA tests use target amplification techniques. Several assays exist for HCV RNA testing. Methods include polymerase chain reaction , transcription mediated amplification , and branched chain DNA tests. Results are expressed as international units/mL . The different methods and different commercial assays each have a lower limit of quantification and lower limit of detection , therefore a patient’s results could be reported differently depending on the assay used. HCV RNA tests must have an LLOQ of 25 IU/mL or lower when used to assess treatment response with DAAs.
LLOQ = the lowest HCV RNA level that is within the linear and analytically acceptable range of the assay.
LLOD = the lowest level of HCV RNA that is detected 95% of the time.
Read Also: Blood Test For Hepatitis C Virus
What Is A Hepatitis C Screening
Testing for hepatitis C involves a blood test called an HCV antibody test . This test determines if youve ever had a hepatitis C infection by checking your blood for HCV-specific antibodies.
If you test positive for HCV antibodies, youll need to undergo follow-up testing. Having antibodies does not mean you currently have an active infection. It may simply mean that you have had a prior exposure that your immune system cleared.
To check whether you have an active infection, a doctor will order a nucleic acid test . A positive result means the virus is currently active in your bloodstream. If you get a negative result, the virus was once in your body, but its not anymore.
- have HIV
- have ever had a needle-stick injury or potentially been exposed to HCV-positive blood
- have had a tattoo or piercing done outside of a professional sterile environment
According to the , HCV may be passed through sexual activity, though this is not common. The agency notes that your risk may be increased if you:
- have a sexually transmitted infection
- have sex with multiple partners
- have anal sex
Treatment For Hcv Infection
Treatment for HCV infection is available. The role of treatment in acute infection is being evaluated and currently the existing data shows that response to 6 months of standard therapy with interferon in terms of absence of HCV RNA from serum is excellent and progression to chronicity is reduced. The recommended treatment for chronic HCV infection is a combination of a pegylated IFN alpha and ribavirin. The treatment duration depends on the genotype of the virus and it has two goals. The first is to achieve sustained eradication of HCV, that is, sustained virologic response , which is defined as the persistent absence of HCV RNA in serum for 6 months or more after completing antiviral treatment. The second goal is to prevent progression to cirrhosis, HCC, and decompensated liver disease requiring liver transplantation.
Recommended Reading: Difference Between Hepatitis A And B
Read Also: Hepatitis C And Mental Health
The Fedcap Groups Annual Gala
In 2018, Easterseals Central Texas joined the Fedcap Groupan international non profit organization dedicated to the long term economic well being of every person we serve. Each year The Fedcap Groupcomprised of 23 companieshosts a Celebration of the Power of Possible Gala. This inspiring event showcases the work of its companies and how we are collectively changing the world. Please join us by clicking on the link above or the image. You can join us in person or virtually!
Hepatitis C And Baby Boomers
According to the CDC, people born from 1945-1965, also referred to as baby boomers, are five times more likely than other adults to have hepatitis C. As a result, the CDC recommends that everyone born between these years be tested once for hepatitis C. Testing can help baby boomers that may have been living with the disease for decades to verify their health status and to determine the best course of action for treatment.
Read Also: What Is Hepatic Metastatic Disease
Who Gets Hepatitis C
Persons at highest risk for HCV infection include:
- persons who ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago,
- people who had blood transfusions, blood products or organ donations before June 1992, when sensitive tests for HCV were introduced for blood screening, and
- persons who received clotting factors made before 1987.
Other persons at risk for hepatitis C include:
- long-term kidney dialysis patients,
- health care workers after exposures to the blood of an infected person while on the job,
- infants born to HCV-infected mothers,
- people with high-risk sexual behavior, multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases,
- people who snort cocaine using shared equipment, and
- people who have shared toothbrushes, razors and other personal items with a family member who is HCV-infected.
Besides Hcv Testing What Other Tests Might Be Done
Healthcare practitioners may also order a liver panel, which is a group of tests that help assess the health of your liver. Liver tests such as ALT and AST may be used to detect ongoing liver injury. You will likely be checked to see if you are immune to hepatitis A and hepatitis B, and if not, you will be offered vaccination, since infection with these other viruses can further damage your liver. Other tests such as albumin, prothrombin time, and bilirubin can also be used. They are typically normal unless you have developed cirrhosis. Sometimes a liver biopsy may be performed to determine the severity of liver damage. If you are going to be treated, you will be checked for exposure or infection with hepatitis B virus, as HCV treatment can cause a flare-up of hepatitis B.
Don’t Miss: Any Cure For Hepatitis B
How Can I Tell If I Am Contagious And Can Spread The Infection To Others
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.
Meaning Of Hcv Viral Load
The number of HCV RNA international units per milliliter of blood must be measured before treatment and during the course of treatment, to assess response. Before treatment, however, the HCV viral load is not related to the patient’s liver disease severity or HCV prognosis. This is important for patients and providers to understand.
Note: In hepatitis B, unlike hepatitis C, a higher HBV DNA viral load does correlate with increased disease severity and increased likelihood of outcomes such as hepatocellular carcinoma.
Don’t Miss: Is Hepatitis C Related To Aids
Getting Tested For Hepatitis C
A blood test, called an HCV antibody test, is used to find out if someone has ever been infected with the hepatitis C virus. The HCV antibody test, sometimes called the anti-HCV test, looks for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus in blood. Antibodies are chemicals released into the bloodstream when someone gets infected.
Test results can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to come back. Rapid anti-HCV tests are available in some health clinics and the results of these tests are available in 20 to 30 minutes.
Sharing Toothbrushes Scissors And Razors
Theres a potential risk that hepatitis C may be passed on through sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors and scissors, as they can become contaminated with infected blood.
Equipment used by hairdressers, such as scissors and clippers, can pose a risk if it has been contaminated with infected blood and not been sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.
Recommended Reading: Is Hepatitis A Curable Or Treatable
The Test Is Quick And Easy
A simple blood test can tell if youve ever had the virus. The results usually come back in a few days, but some clinics have rapid versions that can be read in as little as 20 minutes. If it comes back negative, but theres a chance you were exposed in the last 6 months, get tested again.
If the first results are positive, you had hepatitis C at some point. A second test will check to see if the original case cleared up or became chronic . If its chronic, youll need to see a doctor who specializes in treating the disease.