Other Tests For Diagnosing Hepatitis C
Before recommending a treatment plan, your doctor will likely conduct other tests. The six major strains, or genotypes, of HCV respond differently to different treatments, so your doctor will conduct another blood test that determines your HCV genotype.
You can be infected with more than one genotype at a time. Genotypes 1, 2, and 3 are the most common in the United States.
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.
Who Should Get Tested For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is transmitted mostly when the blood of an infected person gets into an uninfected person’s body, such as from sharing needles for intravenous drug use . Less commonly, a person can also get hepatitis C virus through sexual contact with someone who is infected.
You should get tested for hepatitis C if you:
- Are age 18 or older
- Currently use intravenous drugs or have in the past
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992, when routine blood screenings became available
- Received a clotting factor concentrate made before 1987
- Are a hemodialysis patient or ever spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure
- Were born to an HCV-positive mother
- Had tattoos or piercings done at an unlicensed or unregulated establishment
- Are a healthcare worker who has ever been injured by a needle at work
Read Also: Hepatitis B Vaccine For Infants Schedule
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.
Can Hepatitis C Be Transferred To An Unborn Child During Pregnancy
The hepatitis C virus can be transferred to an unborn child during pregnancy. About 5% of pregnant women with hepatitis C pass the virus on to their babies. This is the most common way children are exposed to the hepatitis C virus. Children born to people with hepatitis C need testing for hepatitis C infection because they can develop chronic infection.
Also Check: What Form Of Hepatitis Is Sexually Transmitted
Can This Test Be Done At My Healthcare Practitioners Office
Maybe. There are rapid HCV antibody tests available that can be done at the point of care , in settings such as your healthcare practitioners office, community health clinics, and emergency rooms. They provide results in about 20 minutes. However, a positive result requires confirmation of active disease with an HCV RNA test, which is performed in a laboratory.
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: What Is A Hepatitis C Screening
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.
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.
You May Like: Is There A Vaccine For Hepatitis C Virus
If You Are A Baby Boomer Heres Another Item For Your To Do List: Get Tested For Hepatitis C
As the youngest of its generation turns 50 this year, AARP has declared 2014 the Year of the Boomer.
There are many ways in which boomers contributions to society can be recognized and celebrated. But if you are one of the 77 million Americans born after the Second World War, your special year would take on greater meaning if you were to pause and think about your liver health.
Specifically, the American Liver Foundation is appealing to you to take the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and get tested for hepatitis C.
Why, you may be thinking, are you being asked to do this? The facts speak for themselves: Anyone can get hepatitis C, but baby boomers are five times more likely to be infected.
Of all the people in the United States who have hepatitis C, more than 75 percent were born between 1945 and 1965.
Over all, considering that an estimated 3.2 million people have hepatitis C in the United States, the disease has been described as an unrecognized health crisis.
There are vaccines available for the hepatitis A and B viruses, but no vaccine is available yet to prevent hepatitis C. So testing for hepatitis C is critical to finding and treating the disease at its earliest stages.
Hepatitis C the silent epidemic
The longer the virus goes undetected, the greater a persons risk of developing serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Why is the baby boom generation so susceptible?
What does the test involve?
Hep C 123 Program
Why Does Everyone Need Screening
Because the disease can be symptomless, the only way to know for sure who has it is through testing. Maybe you picked up the virus from sharing a razor or toothbrush with someone whos infected, or maybe you got stuck by a needle when you volunteered to clean up a nearby park. If you have it and dont know it, you run the risk of infecting others. Testing is easy and treatment is highly effective , so theres not much to lose by getting tested.
Don’t Miss: Can You Catch Hepatitis C From Spit
What Is The Hepatitis C Screening
The hepatitis C screening test is a blood test that checks to see if you have antibodies to the hepatitis C virus in your bloodstream. The antibiodies show youve been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. If your test comes back positive for the antibodies, an additional blood test can confirm whether the virus is still active, or chronic in your body.
Whos Most At Risk Of Infection
The hep C virus is transmitted through blood consequently, one of the most significant risk factors in the U.S. is actively injecting drugs with shared needles or syringes. Even if you dont use drugs anymore, just one shared needle, many years ago, is enough to cause infection. The exposure might have been ancient history, says Michael Barry, M.D., a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA, and a member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Read Also: How To Read Hepatitis B Test Results
How Do You Get Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus is passed from person to person when blood from an infected persons body comes in direct contact with someone elses blood.
The most common ways people become infected with the hepatitis C virus are through:
Needle- or syringe-sharing
Exposure to contaminated razorsor instruments used for tattooing and piercings
Unprotected anal sex with a partner who has hepatitis C
Accidental exposure during surgical or medical procedures
Exposure during pregnancy
Since 1992, the U.S. has tested donated blood products and organs for the hepatitis C virus, so getting a blood donation or an organ transplant is an unlikely way to get hepatitis C infection.
Though much less common, it is possible to get hepatitis C from sharing personal care items, like toothbrushes or nail clippers, which can be accidentally contaminated with blood.
While the hepatitis C virus can exist in semen, breast milk, and saliva, the virus is not typically passed from person to person through contact with these fluids. Casual contact, kissing, and hugging cannot transmit the hepatitis C virus.
Early Treatment Can Help You Prevent Liver Cancer Or Liver Failure
According to the CDC, out of every 100 people with hepatitis C:
- 75-85 will develop chronic liver disease.
- Up to 20 will get cirrhosis, a dangerous scarring of the liver.
- 1-5 will die from liver cancer or liver failure.
Getting tested and treated early can stop the hepatitis C virus from triggering cirrhosis or cancer. Your doctor will be able to keep an eye out for signs of liver trouble. They can start treatment before you serious damage starts.
CDC: “Hepatitis C FAQs for Health Professionals,” “Hepatitis C Fact Sheet,” “Hepatitis C: What to Expect When Getting Tested,” “Living with Chronic Hepatitis C.”
Recommended Reading: Difference Between Hepatitis B And C
Adh Encourages Hepatitis C Testing Prevention As Cases Increase In Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. As Arkansas sees an increase in hepatitis C cases, the Arkansas Department of Health is encouraging anyone that may have been exposed to get tested.
Hepatitis C is contagious and can be contracted through contact with an infected persons blood or objects contaminated with blood from an infected person. The virus is spread mostly through injection drug use, according to ADH officials.
Anyone with the virus may experience multiple symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
To determine if someone has ever been infected with the illness, officials said a person has to take an HCV antibody test. Officials also said those who test positive are given a follow-up test to determine if they are infectious or have chronic hepatitis C disease.
Officials said the virus is curable with oral medications that are effective in 95% of cases.
For more information about hepatitis C, visit The Arkansas Department of Healths website at HealthyArkansas.gov.
Hepatitis C Screening: Questions For The Doctor
Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus . The most common way to get hepatitis C is by coming into contact with the blood of someone who has it.
Everyone ages 18 to 79 needs to get tested for hepatitis C at least once.
Many people who have hepatitis C live for years without feeling sick. But the virus can still damage your liver even when there arent any symptoms. You could also spread the virus to others without knowing it.
The only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis C is to get a blood test. Medicine can cure most cases of hepatitis C.
Additional Tests You Might Need
Once youve been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, your doctor will likely order a number of tests to find out about the health of your liver and decide on a treatment plan thats most appropriate for you.
Hepatitis C genotype
The Hepatitis C genotype refers to a specific strain or type of the Hepatitis C virus. There are six major types of Hepatitis C around the world: genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. In the United States, genotypes 1, 2, and 3 are common:
- Genotype 1: Most Americans with Hepatitis C have this type
- Genotype 2: About 10% of Americans with Hepatitis C have this type
- Genotype 3: About 6% of Americans with Hepatitis C have this type
The genotype of Hepatitis C does not change over time, so you only need to get tested once.
Genotype tests are done before a person starts treatment. Hepatitis C treatment works differently for different genotypes, so knowing your genotype helps your doctor choose the best treatment for you.
Testing for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Your doctor may test to see if your body is immune to Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. If these tests show no prior exposure or protection, he or she will recommend that you be vaccinated against these two viruses to eliminate the chance of becoming infected.
Liver function tests or liver enzymes
Liver function tests also include ALP and total bilirubin, among other things.
Tests to measure liver scarring or fibrosis
- Liver Biopsy
- Serum markers
How To Get Tested
Hepatitis C testing is performed by a doctor. Testing requires a blood sample, which can be collected in a hospital, lab, or other medical setting. Blood is often drawn from a vein in the arm or, in children, taken by pricking the skin. After blood is collected, the sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Don’t Miss: What Is Hepatitis A And How Do You Get It
What Does The Test Measure
Hepatitis C testing identifies antibodies to the hepatitis C virus, detects viral RNA, and/or determines the strain of hepatitis C. Hepatitis C testing may involve several different tests:
- Hepatitis C antibody test: Antibodies are a part of the bodys response to an infection. Testing for hepatitis C antibodies determines whether or not a patient has been exposed to the hepatitis C virus at some point in their life. If this test is positive, the next step is to test for hepatitis C RNA which can tell you if you have a current infection.
- Hepatitis C RNA test: RNA is a type of genetic material from the hepatitis C virus that can be detected in the blood. If test results are positive after a hepatitis C antibody test, doctors use a hepatitis C RNA test to look for and/or measure the amount of the virus in the blood. Qualitative HCV RNA tests can detect the presence of HCV RNA, while quantitative HCV RNA tests measure the amount of HCV RNA. Understanding the amount of HCV in the blood helps to monitor response to treatment.
- Genotype test: There are at least six types of hepatitis C, which are also called strains or genotypes. Treatment for hepatitis C depends on the strain, so genotype testing to guide treatment is performed in patients who are diagnosed with an HCV infection.
How Is The Test Used
The various hepatitis C tests have different uses:
The HCV antibody test may be performed as part of an acute viral hepatitis panel to determine which of the most common hepatitis viruses is causing your symptoms.