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Who Should Get Tested
You should consider getting tested for hepatitis C if you’re worried you could have been infected or you fall into one of the groups at an increased risk of being infected.
Hepatitis C often has no symptoms, so you may still be infected if you feel healthy.
Some groups of people are at an increased risk of hepatitis C, including:
- ex-drug users and current drug users, particularly users of injected drugs
- people who received blood transfusions before September 1991 or blood products before 1986 in the UK
- UK recipients of organ or tissue transplants before 1992
- people who have lived or had medical treatment in an area where hepatitis C is common high-risk areas include Africa, the Middle East and central Asia
- babies and children whose mothers have hepatitis C
- anyone accidentally exposed to the virus, such as health workers
- people who have received a tattoo or piercing where equipment may not have been properly sterilised
- sexual partners, family members and close contacts of people with hepatitis C
If you continue to engage in high-risk activities, such as injecting drugs frequently, regular testing may be recommended. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
All About The Hepatitis C Virus Rna Pcr Test
What to expect during testing
A healthcare provider will take a blood sample for analysis.
Before the test, let them know if youre uncomfortable with certain needles or if youve ever passed out at the sight of blood. They can give you a snack to reduce your risk of fainting.
The needle may sting a little as it enters your skin, and you may have a bruise on the site of the draw for a few days.
Results are usually available within a few days or a few weeks at most.
How it works
The HCV RNA PCR test is conducted through a process called polymerase chain reaction . There are two approaches to this process: qualitative and quantitative.
This test is often used to make an HCV diagnosis. It confirms whether you have the virus in your body, but it doesnt reveal how much of the virus is present.
The qualitative test is often the second test that a doctor will use to confirm whether HCV is present in the blood. It typically follows the HCV antibody test.
The antibody test indicates whether your body is making antibodies to fight off an HCV infection. If you test positive for HCV antibodies, your doctor will use HCV RNA PCR testing to confirm and measure the amount of HCV in your blood.
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This test method measures the exact amount of the HCV in your blood in international units per milliliter . This number determines whether you have a high or low viral load.
What the qualitative results mean
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Using Elisa And Hcv Rna Tests Together:
- Negative ELISA = No hepatitis C antibodies found in blood. You are probably not infected with HCV.
- Positive ELISA = You may have HCV infection. However, it is possible this is a false-positive. More testing is required.
- Negative HCV RNA = No active HCV infection.
- Positive HCV RNA = Active HCV infection.
All Adults Pregnant Women And People With Risk Factors Should Get Tested For Hepatitis C
Most people who get infected with hepatitis C virus develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. People can live without symptoms or feeling sick, so testing is the only way to know if you have hepatitis C. Getting tested is important to find out if you are infected so you can get lifesaving treatment that can cure hepatitis C.
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Enzyme Immunoassays For Detection Of Hepatitis C Antibody
The HCV Ab test is used for initial screening for hepatitis C. The test is performed by enzyme immunoassays , which detect the presence of hepatitis C antibodies in serum. The result of the test is reported as positive or negative. Third-generation EIAs have a sensitivity/specificity of approximately 99%. However, the presence of HCV Ab does not indicate whether the infection is acute, chronic, or resolved. A positive antibody test result should be followed up with an HCV RNA test to confirm that viremia is present.
Preparation Prior To Transport
Label the specimen container with the patients full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patients date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.
Centrifuge if using SST. Place specimen in biohazard bag and seal. Specimens should be stored at 2-8°C following collection.
Specimens more than 7 days post collection will not be tested.
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Hcv Antibody Blood Tests
When hepatitis C viruses infect your liver cells, your immune system responds by using antibodies to mark the viruses as harmful intruders. The antibodies are specific for HCV, so their presence indicates that you have had HCV at some time in your life. Antibody tests cannot distinguish between past or current infection, so clinical information such as medical history, signs, symptoms, or other tests can determine whether you have an active infection or a previous infection.
What Are The Hepatitis C Testing Options For Infants
If you receive an HCV-positive result on an antibody test, it usually means youve been infected with HCV at some point. This also means your immune system has been triggered to fight the virus.
During the perinatal period and birth, a mothers antibodies and some viruses, including HCV, cross the placenta and are passed on to her child. Infants born to mothers infected by HCV often test positive for HCV antibodies for up to 18 months after birth. This doesnt necessarily mean that they have hepatitis C, though. HCV antibody tests are often inaccurate.
The antibodies present in the test may come from the infected mother and not the child. Because of this, its recommended that you hold off on getting an HCV antibody test for your child until after theyre at least 18 months old. By this point, any remaining antibodies from the mother should be out of the childs system. This means a more definitive result can be obtained.
HCV RNA-PCR tests are also used. Though HCV RNA-PCR tests are considered a more reliable way to detect the virus in the blood, a two-step approach is often recommended. To determine a diagnosis, your infant will be given two HCV RNA-PCR tests at least six months apart. This test can be done after 3 months of age, though it usually isnt done until later. If your infant tests positive on both, they will be diagnosed with HCV.
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Interpreting Hcv Rna Test Results
It is essential that the provider understands how to interpret HCV RNA test results, especially during the course of HCV treatment.
|Result of HCV RNA Test||Interpretation|
|A quantified viral load — any exact number||Ongoing HCV infection|
|“Detected”||The HCV RNA is detectable but the number of international units is so low that it cannot be quantified accurately. This indicates extremely low level of virus is present.|
|“< 12 IU/mL” or “< 15 IU/mL” or “< 25 IU/mL” All of these are “less than the LLOQ”||HCV RNA is undetectable. No virus is detected at all in the patient’s serum specimen.|
This Hepatitis C Screening Test Checks Whether You Test Positive For Hepatitis C
In the event that your test results are positive, an associate from our physician network will contact you directly to discuss your particular case as well as provide information on how to take the next steps to get treatment. We take customer privacy very seriously and will never share your information with a third-party with the exception of the lab we use to test your sample and our physician network.
As is the case with all STD testing – whether through EverlyWell or your doctor â we may be required by law to report positive test results to certain state health departments. This is only done to track infection prevalence. In rare cases you may not receive a definitive result because of early infection or inadequate sampling and repeat testing is suggested. Know where you stand with our at-home Hepatitis C test.
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Screening For Hcv Infection
HCV screening has several potential benefits. By detecting HCV infection early, antiviral treatment can be offered earlier in the course of the disease which is more effective than starting at a later stage. Further, early detection together with counseling and lifestyle modifications may reduce the risk of transmission of HCV infection to other people. The optimal approach to screen for HCV is to test the individuals having risk factors for exposure to the virus. The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases recommends screening for HCV for the following individuals:
Recipient of blood or blood components .
Recipient of blood from a HCV-positive donor.
Injection drug user .
Persons with following associated conditions
persons with HIV infection,
persons who have ever been on hemodialysis, and
persons with unexplained abnormal aminotransferase levels.
Children born to HCV-infected mothers.
Healthcare workers after a needle stick injury or mucosal exposure to HCV-positive blood.
Current sexual partners of HCV-infected persons.
How Can I Cover Medication Costs
New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are effective and can achieve cures of over 90%. Because these new therapies are very new, they remain very expensive. As such, drug coverage from both government and private companies may require that your liver disease has progressed to a certain stage before they are willing to cover the cost of these drugs.
Talk with your healthcare provider about financial support that may be available.
Below are useful resources when looking for financial assistance:Private health insurance or drug plansIf you have private health insurance or a drug plan at work, you may be able to have the medication paid through your plan. Please consult your private health insurance or drug plan provider to see if your drug is covered.
Publicly funded plansEach provincial and territorial government offers a drug benefit plan for eligible groups. Some are income-based universal programs. Most have specific programs for population groups that may require more enhanced coverage for high drug costs. These groups include seniors, recipients of social assistance, and individuals with diseases or conditions that are associated with high drug costs. For more details, please contact your provincial or territorial health care ministry, or click on the appropriate link below.
Available Patient Assistance Programs for Hepatitis C treatment Holkira Pak Maviret
MerckCare Hepatitis C Program 1 872-5773 Zepatier
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Hepatitis C Testing And Diagnosis
Doctors will start by checking your blood for:
Anti-HCV antibodies: This blood test is the first — and sometimes only — one you may get. Also called the ELISA screen, it checks for antibodies that your body releases to fight the virus. These are proteins your body makes when it finds the hep C virus in your blood. They usually show up about 12 weeks after infection. Your test will be either negative or positive for antibodies. It usually takes a few days to a week to get results, though a rapid test is available in some places.
What the results mean
Negative . This is when your blood shows no signs of HCV antibodies. Most of the time, thatâs because you never came in contact with the virus and you do not have hep C.
Sometimes, your negative result can be false, meaning you have HCV. That may happen if you:
- Took the test too soon after your exposure. This test checks for only HCV antibodies, which can take several months to appear.
- Have HIV, a donated organ, or other conditions that weaken your immune system, which can suppress your antibodies
- Get hemodialysis for kidney problems
If youâve been exposed in the last 6 months, youâll need to be retested.
Positive . This means youâve been infected with HCV. But false positives are surprisingly common. More than 1 in 5 people who test positive donât actually have hepatitis C. Possible reasons include:
What the results mean
Who Should Get Tested For Hepatitis C
The CDC recommends that you get tested at least once no matter what. Definitely get screened if any of these things apply to you:
- You were born between 1945 and 1965.
- You use or inject drugs.
- You have ever injected drugs — even if it was just once or a long time ago.
- Youâre on kidney dialysis.
- You have abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels .
- You had a blood transfusion, blood components, or an organ transplant before July 1992.
- Youâve ever gotten clotting factor concentrates made before 1987.
- You received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C virus.
- Youâre a health care worker, first responder, or have another job that exposes you to HCV-infected needles.
- You were born to a mother with HCV.
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Addressing Hepatitis For The First Time
It is crucial that a treatment counselor or health professional use a nonjudgmental and compassionate tone. Clients need to feel comfortable disclosing information about their health and risky behaviors. The following strategies can help initiate the conversation:
- Display posters, literature, or other -related items that could help prompt the client to ask questions about hepatitis. .
- Assess clients ability to discuss , based on their degree of openness in the counseling session, the amount of detail they provide in their responses, and the length of the therapeutic relationship.
- Raise the subject in a way that avoids making clients feel defensive or afraid. Consider introducing the subject by making parallels with other conditions that have been discussed. Say, for example, You said you were tested for HIV several times. Were you ever tested for viral ? or You mentioned that your friend is sick with HIV. Have you been tested for HCV or HIV? Tell me about those tests.
- Be patient and allow time for multiple, short conversations about the subject. This might ease feelings of fear, anxiety, or shame.
The Quantitative Hcv Rna Test Is Checked Before A Patient Starts Treatment
For each patient, the result can be described as either a “high” viral load, which is usually > 800,000 IU/L, or a “low” viral load, which is usually < 800,000 IU/L. It’s not uncommon to have a viral load in the millions. Today’s hepatitis C treatments are very effective with both high and low viral loads. An undetectable HCV viral load 10-12 weeks after hepatitis C is completed is associated with a cure.
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Counseling Practices That Educate Support And Motivate Clients Undergoing Screening
Clients might need help deciding whether to get screened, understanding the test results, and determining their next steps. Even when services offered through the substance abuse treatment program are limited, discussing testing with clients presents an opportunity for counselors to motivate clients for change by confronting substance use and by making choices that improve their overall health. However, this may also be true when services are offered on-site through substance abuse treatment programs. A study at one methadone clinic that offered hepatitis screening and vaccination revealed that although the majority of clients completed screening , only 54.7 percent of clients who lacked for hepatitis A received vaccinations and only 2.9 percent of clients who lacked immunity for received vaccinations .
The Consensus Panel makes the following general recommendations while recognizing that, in some programs, the counselors role may be limited:
How To Test For Hep C
If you suspect you may have a hepatitis C infection, taking a hepatitis C test can be a great start in addition to consulting your healthcare provider for next steps. Our at-home hepatitis C test is a convenient way to check for this virus. To check for hepatitis C with this test, you just collect a small sample of blood with a simple finger prick, then ship the sample to a lab for testing with the prepaid shipping label that comes with the kit.
If your results from our hepatitis C test indicate that you do have this viral infection, share your results with your healthcare provider right away so you can take the next steps they recommend.
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How Common Is Hepatitis C In Infants
Up to 46,000 children in the United States have HCV, with many being infected from their mother during the birthing process. According to the CDC, about 6 out of every 100 babies born to infected mothers contract the disease. This risk increases if the child is born to a mother with both HCV and HIV.
Research has shown that an infant has a greater chance of HCV infection if the mother has a higher viral load. The viral load refers to the amount of virus present in your bloodstream. Cesarean delivery hasnt been shown to change the risk of infection during birth.