How The Test Is Performed
Blood is most often drawn from a vein from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine . The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed. The puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
The blood sample is sent to a lab to be examined. Blood tests are used to check for antibodies to each of the hepatitis viruses.
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.
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.
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How To Avoid Hepatitis B
- never share any drug-injecting equipment with other people
- dont get tattoos or piercings from unlicensed places
- dont share razors, toothbrushes or towels that might be contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids
- use a condom, especially with a new partner, for anal and oral sex. You can order male and female condoms here.
- hepatitis B vaccine is available from the NHS, and is recommended for people who are at risk of infection. This includes people who inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people whose partners or close family have the virus.
Hepatitis A Anitbody Test
This test detects whether you have produced antibodies known as immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G against the hepatitis A virus .
Remember too that the test will also come back positive for IgG if you have had the hepatitis A vaccination. It is presumed that one infection with hepatitis A produces lasting immunity against further infection.
If youve been diagnosed with hepatitis A, you can find out more about the condition, how to manage it and how best to look after yourself by downloading our publication on hepatitis A
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Types Of Hepatitis Tests
Hepatitis testing often begins with preliminary tests to evaluate the liver and detect evidence of hepatitis. Depending on the patients symptoms, medical history, and the results of a physical exam, a patients doctor may order individual tests or broad test panels such as a comprehensive metabolic panel and a liver panel. These tests may be used to evaluate the liver, detect evidence of hepatitis, and begin to narrow down the underlying cause of a patients condition.
Tests used to diagnose, evaluate, and guide treatment for viral hepatitis may be performed individually when a person has a known or suspected exposure to a specific type of viral hepatitis. In patients without a known or expected exposure, tests may be performed together as part of an acute viral hepatitis panel. An acute viral hepatitis panel detects evidence of the three most common types of hepatitis in the United States: hepatitis A, B, and C.
Viral hepatitis testing detects antibodies, antigens, or the genetic material of a hepatitis virus. Antigens are substances from the virus that produce an immune response, while antibodies are produced by the immune system after an infection. Tests related to viral hepatitis include:
|Tests Related to Viral Hepatitis|
|Blood||Antibodies present in primary biliary cholangitis, a type of liver disease|
How To Prevent An Infection
You contract hepatitis C when you come into contact with the blood of a person who has a hepatitis C infection.
The process of screening blood in the United States keeps it from being transmitted during transfusions and organ transplants.
Hepatitis C can be transmitted from mother to baby during childbirth. It can be transmitted from a needle stick in a medical setting too.
Its not common, but hepatitis C can also be transmitted when you share personal items or during sexual contact with a person who has the infection.
Here are some ways to lower your risk of hepatitis infection:
- Do not share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment.
- Do not share razors, toothbrushes, or other personal care items.
- When getting a tattoo or body piercing, use only licensed facilities that prioritize and implement infection-control practices.
- Be very careful when cleaning up blood spills and be sure to wear gloves. The hepatitis C virus can live up to 6 weeks on surfaces.
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How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis A , hepatitis B and hepatitis C , is diagnosed by your symptoms, a physical exam and blood tests. Sometimes imaging studies such as a sonogram or CAT scan and a liver biopsy are also used.
What are the types of Hepatitis?
There are several types of hepatitis, but the three most common in the U.S. are:
- Hepatitis A â It is considered highly contagious but is not a long-term infection and usually has no complications. Your liver usually heals within two months. Preventable with a vaccination, it can be spread by eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with the stool of a person who has the virus.
- Hepatitis B â While it can lead to long-term liver damage, most children and adults recover within 6 months. You can spread the virus even though you show no symptoms. Pregnant women who are infected by the virus can pass it along to their newborn. Also, preventable through vaccine, hepatitis B is spread by:
- Having sex with someone who’s infected
- Sharing dirty needles
- Having direct contact with infected blood or the body fluids of someone who’s got the disease
Who’s at Risk for Hepatitis Infection?
You are at increases risk hepatis A if you meet one or more of these criteria:
- Children born to mothers who have HBV
- People with certain high liver function blood tests
For hepatitis C, the CDC recommends that you have a blood test if any of the following is true:
- Feeling sick to the stomach
The Treatment Programs Role In The Screening Process
Medical staff members at substance abuse treatment programs might assume the primary role for screening individuals for and explaining the screening process and test results. Opioid treatment programs with medical staff members should screen for and C at intake and periodically as indicated. In programs without onsite medical staff, clients may be referred elsewhere for screening with minimal involvement of the substance abuse treatment program.
Regardless of the type of program, counselors should have a basic understanding of the importance of screening, the screening process, and the meaning of the results. Counselors can encourage clients referred for screening to follow through and complete the screening and evaluation process . Clients might feel anxious about being diagnosed with hepatitis, and they might delay or avoid getting screened.
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Should You Be Tested For Hepatitis
Millions of Americans are living with chronic hepatitis but most don’t know they have the infectious disease. That’s why the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention is promoting May 19 as Hepatitis Testing Day. In the U. S., the most common forms of the infection are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C . Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Stacey Rizza says all forms hepatitis are dangerous for the person infected and that HCV is of particular concern. She explains it’s also an issue for the public.
“If somebody gets cancer or gets diabetes or gets arthritis, that is a problem for them, but it doesnt, in fact, impact anybody else in their health. Whereas in infectious diseases, as well as hepatitis C, if somebody gets hepatitis C, not only could it impact them, but they could potentially transmit it to others so it has more of a domino effect in society,” says Dr. Rizza. “Thats why we care so much about infectious diseases, and decreasing the incidence so that there are fewer people to infect other people.”
Watch: Dr. Stacey Rizza talks about hepatitis C.
Baby boomers account for 75 percent of HCV infections however, a new demographic is rising. The opioid crisis in the U.S. has been linked to increases in both hepatitis B and hepatitis C in people under the age of 40, specifically those who inject drugs. The CDC says these infections have reached epidemic proportions in many areas of the nation.
Those who should get tested include:
How Is Liver Damage Assessed
If you have hepatitis C, doctors can gauge the level of liver damage you’ve experienced. One useful diagnostic tool is called a hepatic function panel, a group of blood tests performed together that examine the levels of certain liver enzymes, bilirubin , and proteins circulating in the blood.
Higher-than-normal levels of the liver enzymes, indicate that your liver is damaged, possibly from cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Albumin may be low, and your total bilirubin levels may also be elevated.
Along with the hepatic function panel, your doctor may also order two other tests: one test to determine the levels of the liver enzyme gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase in your blood, and a prothrombin time test that measures how well your blood clots.
A liver biopsy, in which a liver tissue sample is removed with a thin needle inserted through your skin and into your liver, can provide more details about the amount of scarring and damage HCV has caused.
Your doctor may also order an imaging test, such as a computerized tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging , or ultrasound, to see if your hepatitis C has caused liver cancer, a possible complication of hepatitis C.
Additional reporting by Deborah Shapiro.
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Prior To Vaccination: Pre
- Some patients should be tested for existing immunity to hepatitis A, before vaccination these patients should be tested only for Hep A IgG
- Patients who should be tested prior to vaccination are those who have a reasonable likelihood of previous hepatitis A infection, such as:
- People born in geographic areas with high or intermediate prevalence of hepatitis A
- Native Americans
Who Should Get Tested For Hepatitis
Everyone should get tested for hepatitis.
You may be at higher risk for hepatitis if
- you are a baby boomer
- you are part of Canadas Indigenous populations
- you are an immigrant to Canada
- you have shared drug-use equipment, even once
- you have shared personal care items
- you were exposed to blood during sexual activity
- you had a tattoo or piercing done where non-sterile equipment is used
- you lived in a region where hepatitis C is common
- you received a blood transfusion or blood products before 1992
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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.
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.
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Risk Factors For Hepatitis C
You are at a greater risk of having the hepatitis C virus if you:
- Are a current or former injection drug user
- Received a blood transfusion or organ donation before 1992, or clotting factor replacement therapy before 1987
- Are on dialysis for kidney failure
- Are HIV positive
- Have a mother with hepatitis C
- Have undergone body modification without the use of sterile instruments
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 take a hepatitis C antibody test at least once. If you have never done testing for the hepatitis C virus, our at-home hep C test makes it easy to collect a small sample of blood from the convenience of home and send it to a lab for testing. Our HCV antibody test, sometimes called an anti-HCV test, checks if the infection is present in your body by looking for antibodies released by the immune system in response to the hepatitis C virus.
Diagnosing Hepatitis A B & C
At NYU Langone, hepatologists, or liver specialists, and infectious disease specialists use blood tests to diagnose hepatitis A, B, and C. These viral infections cause inflammation of the liver.
If the results of a blood test confirm a diagnosis of viral hepatitis, your doctor may recommend imaging tests or a liver biopsy to determine the extent of liver disease.
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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.
Here Are Our Top Five Reasons To Get Tested For Hepatitis:
1. You can have hepatitis and not know it
Signs and symptoms of viral hepatitis are not always easy to see or feel. Sometimes there can be no symptoms at all. Someone who has hepatitis can live for many years symptom-free until liver damage is severe or liver cancer is found.
2. It helps prevent liver damage and liver cancer
Getting tested for hepatitis is important because knowing your status early allows your health-care team to monitor your liver health regularly and treat it as required.
3. It helps protect your family and friends
Many people dont know the facts about how hepatitis is transmitted. Some people think that transmission can only happen through sharing needles. Here are some facts to consider:
- Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated water or food.
- Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with body fluid .
- Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact .
Baby boomers and people with other risk factors should get tested for hepatitis.
Hepatitis is NOT spread by
- hugging your loved ones
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