Once I Have Been Treated And/or Recovered From Hepatitis C Can I Get Infected Again
Yes. A prior infection with HCV does not protect you from another infectionit does not make you immune to HCV. Most people do not have an effective immune response to the virus. Changes that the virus undergoes as it replicates during an infection make it difficult for the body to fight against the initial or subsequent infections.
Book Your Instant Hepatitis C Test
Arranging your private appointment is quick, easy and stress-free. Simply get in touch with Better2Know either by phone or email or you can book online. We are here 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We will then send you confirmation of your booking and details of how to log into your patient area to see your appointment details and a map of the clinic.
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 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 means that you’ve never had HCV in your blood, while a positive result means you were exposed to the virus at some point in your life. Up to a quarter of people spontaneously clear the virus from their blood within six months of contracting it.
Because EIA sometimes produces false-positive results, a test called recombinant immunoblot assay may be used to confirm that you have the HCV antibody. This test is not necessary for most patients, and it is more commonly performed by blood banks to check for the virus in donated blood.
A negative EIA result may just mean that your body has not yet produced the HCV antibody , and you may need to be tested again in a few months.
If you have a positive antibody test, your doctor will then use another blood sample to conduct a qualitative polymerase chain reaction test or a process called transcription-mediated amplification , which looks for the presence or absence of RNA of HCV in your blood.
Treatments Can Suppress Or Even Wipe Out The Virus
Hepatitis C is treated with a combination of medications called antivirals. For many people, they get rid of the virus completely. They do have serious side effects and they donât work for everyone. New drugs recently approved by the FDA are more effective and have fewer side effects. But some are expensive.
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What Do I Do If I Have Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications that can clear the virus from the body. The medications are usually taken over several weeks to months. The goal of the treatment is to not detect hepatitis C in the body after 12 weeks after the completion of treatment.
If a person has developed serious complications from hepatitis C, a liver transplant might be an option. During this procedure, the surgeon will remove parts of the damaged liver and replace it with a healthy one. A liver transplant alone will not cure hepatitis C and antiviral medications might be required post-transplant.
Living with hepatitis C is never easy and you are not alone. There are myriad ways to cope with help emotionally and physically. For example, there are support groups where you can find community and share your experiences with others.
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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.
Hepatitis C Viral Load / Hcv Rna Quantitative Testing
The viral load of hepatitis C refers to the amount of virus present in the bloodstream. The quantitative HCV RNA tests measure the amount of hepatitis C virus in the blood. The result will be an exact number, such as “1,215,422 IU/L.” Many people refer to the quantitative measurement as the hepatitis C “viral load.”
Viral load tests are used to confirm active hepatitis C infection and are used during treatment to help determine response. If you have lower levels of virus in your blood when you start treatment, you may have a better chance of getting rid of the virus.
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What Are The Pros And Cons Of At
The primary benefit to at-home tests is access. At-home tests will help identify individuals who are infected and dont know their status otherwise, says Yao, who hopes more manufacturers will develop these devices and tests.
One potential pitfall is the cost. While HCV and sexual transmitted infection tests performed in a medical facility are typically covered by insurance or made available for free at a local public health clinic, at-home HCV tests arent covered by insurance, he says.
For some, the wait time may be a deal breaker. To a lot of people, at-home tests mean you can do self-testing, like for HIV, and receive a result in 20 minutes, he says. Other potential issues include a persons ability to follow instructions and whether theyre able to do a blood prick themselves.
What Does The Test Result Mean
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.
|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
|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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Everyone Should Be Tested For Hcv
Theres no overstating the importance of HCV testing for people who dont know if they have the infection.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all asymptomatic adults, regardless of risk factors and age, should be screened for HCV, says Joseph Yao, MD, a researcher for the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, who focuses on the development of clinical diagnostic tests for viral hepatitis, HIV infection, and transplant-associated viruses. Those who have continued risk factors, such as engaging in intravenous drug use, need to be screened periodically. People who are on dialysis may also need to be screened.
For symptomatic individuals, if you have a history of liver disease, injection drug use, HIV, or other liver disorders, you should also be screened for HCV, he says. The symptoms of acute or chronic hepatitis C are indistinguishable from other hepatitis or liver disorders, but they usually include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, jaundice, and general itchiness , he explains.
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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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.
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. A positive test means you can transmit the virus, but it cant 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 doesnt include this info on the product page.
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.
- Pros: includes comprehensive STI testing
- Cons: not available in all states, some customer service complaints
You can use an FSA or HSA account to pay for the test, or pay out of pocket.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Most people that have been infected with the HCV virus will not have any symptoms of the disease. In fact, it may take years or decades before symptoms present themselves. When symptoms do present themselves, they are generally nonspecific. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Dark urine
Given the fact that most patients will not experience any symptoms and the seriousness of the HCV infection, it is important for individuals that are in at-risk groups to be tested for hepatitis C.
What Is Being Tested
Hepatitis C is a virus that causes an infection of the liver that is marked by liver inflammation and damage. Hepatitis C tests are a group of tests that are performed to diagnose hepatitis C infection and to guide and monitor treatment of the infection.
Hepatitis C tests include:
Hepatitis C is one of five viruses identified so far, including A, B, D, and E, that are known to cause hepatitis.
HCV is spread when contaminated blood enters the body, primarily though sharing needles and syringes during IV drug use. HCV is spread less commonly by sharing personal items contaminated with blood , through sex with an infected person, needlestick injuries to healthcare workers, unregulated tattooing, and from mother to baby during pregnancy and childbirth. Before tests for HCV became available in the 1990s, HCV was often transmitted by blood transfusions. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.
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What Happens During A Hepatitis Panel
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
You may also be able to use an at-home kit to test for hepatitis. While instructions may vary between brands, your kit will include a device to prick your finger . Youll use this device to collect a drop of blood for testing. For more information on at-home testing for hepatitis, talk to your health care provider.
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.
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