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virus (HCV) test is a blood test that looks for the genetic material (RNA) of the virus that causes hepatitis or for the proteins (antibodies) the body makes against
proteins will be present in your blood if you have a hepatitis C infection now
or have had one in the past. It is important to identify the type of hepatitis
virus causing the infection, to prevent its spread and choose the proper
HCV is spread
through infected blood.
There is no vaccine available to prevent hepatitis
Hepatitis C virus testing is done
You do not need to do anything before
you have this test.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you
have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what
the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill
medical test information formmedical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
The health professional taking a sample
of your blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
There is very little chance of a problem from
having a blood sample taken from a vein.
hepatitis C virus (HCV) test is a blood test that
looks for the genetic material (RNA) of the hepatitis C virus or for the proteins (antibodies) the body makes against HCV.
Results of hepatitis C virus testing that show no infection are called
negative. This means that no antibodies against HCV or HCV genetic material was
found. Results are usually available in 5 to 7 days.
No hepatitis C antibodies are found.
No hepatitis C genetic material (RNA) is
Hepatitis C antibodies are found. A test to detect HCV RNA
is needed to determine whether the infection is current or occurred in the
past. If HCV RNA is found, genotyping can determine which strain of HCV is
causing the infection.
Hepatitis C RNA is detected. This
result means a current hepatitis C virus infection.
Many conditions can change HCV
antibody levels. Your doctor will talk with you about any abnormal results that
may be related to your symptoms and past health.
may need to be rechecked if you are taking some herbs, supplements, or other alternative medicine products.
Smith BD, et al. (2012). Recommendations for the identification of chronic hepatitis C virus infection among persons born during 1945–1965. MMWR, 61(RR-4): 1–32. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6104a1.htm.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2013). Screening for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adults: Recommendation Statement. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspshepc.htm.
Other Works Consulted
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003).
Guidelines for laboratory testing and result reporting of antibody to hepatitis
C virus. MMWR, 52(RR-03): 1–16. Available online:
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.
Scott JD, Gretch DR (2007). Molecular diagnostics of
hepatitis C virus infection: A systematic review. JAMA,
August 16, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
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