Hepatitis C Antibody Test

This blood test checks for the hepatitis C antibody. Its presence means that, at some point, the person was infected with the hepatitis C virus.

This blood test checks for the hepatitis C antibody. Its presence means that, at some point, the person was infected with the hepatitis C virus.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Frequently, hepatitis is caused by a viral infection. Three of the most common hepatitis viruses are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. A hepatitis C antibody test is done to determine if you have developed antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. If antibodies are present, it means that you have been infected with the hepatitis C virus at some point. An antibody is a substance the body normally makes to protect itself from an infection.

  • A positive test means you have been exposed to the virus. However, it does not determine when you were exposed or whether you still have an active infection.
  • If the test for the hepatitis C antibody is positive, a second test called hepatitis C virus RNA (also known as a PCR test) will be done. This test is done to see if you are still infected with the virus.
  • Testing for hepatitis C has become very important because of the new treatments that are effective in treating this infection.

Your healthcare provider will ask about potential exposure to hepatitis, previous blood transfusions and sexual practices. If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, your healthcare provider may also recommend:

  • Hepatitis B and HIV testing, because all 3 of these diseases have many risk factors in common.
  • Testing for a specific HCV genotype. (A genotype is the genetic makeup of an organism. It consists of the DNA that determines an organism's characteristics.) Knowing the genetic makeup of the virus can help guide your doctor's approach to treatment. There are six major HCV genotypes. In the United States, genotype 1 is the most common.
  • Blood tests can detect and measure the quantity of the virus in your blood.
  • Other blood tests, such as those that determine how well your liver is functioning.
  • A liver biopsy, which is the removal of a suspicious sample of tissue from the liver to check for the presence of abnormal, or cancerous, cells.
  • An abdominal ultrasound (using sound waves to create images of internal body parts).

Your doctor may also recommend repeating certain blood tests at specific intervals.

In an adult, the blood sample is taken by placing a needle in a vein in the arm.

  • Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking.
  • Some medications can interfere with the test.

This care path's costs do not include the charge to draw blood from a vein (venipuncture). There will only be one charge to draw blood, even if multiple tests are being performed on the samples that are taken.

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having this test?

  • Is there any special preparation for the test? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • What is the reason for the test? Will the test results change my treatment plan? If not, do I need the test?
  • What happens if I have a positive test?
  • What are the risk factors for hepatitis?

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Hepatitis C Antibody Test
Laboratory Work
Hepatitis Blood Test
Hep C

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