The Hepatitis C AB with HCV RNA, QN, PCR panel contains 2 tests with 4 biomarkers.
Brief Description: The Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test is a comprehensive diagnostic test used to detect and confirm the presence of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the blood. It combines the initial screening for HCV antibodies with a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to measure the viral load.
Also Known As: Anti HCV Test, HCV Antibody Test, Hep C Antibody Test
Collection Method: Blood Draw
Specimen Type: Serum
Test Preparation: No preparation required
When is a Hepatitis C Antibody test ordered?
A Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test may be ordered in the following situations:
- Routine Screening: Individuals at higher risk for HCV infection, such as those with a history of injection drug use, blood transfusions before 1992, or certain medical procedures, may undergo routine screening to detect HCV infection.
- Confirmation of HCV Infection: When initial HCV antibody screening tests yield positive results, HCV RNA Quantitative PCR is performed to confirm the presence of active HCV infection and determine the viral load.
- Monitoring Treatment Progress: During and after treatment for HCV infection, the test is used to monitor the effectiveness of antiviral therapy and determine if the virus has been successfully cleared from the bloodstream.
What does a Hepatitis C Antibody blood test check for?
Hepatitis C is a virus that causes a liver infection that results in liver inflammation and damage. Hepatitis C tests are a collection of tests used to detect, diagnose, and track the progress of a hepatitis C virus infection. The most frequent HCV test searches for antibodies produced in response to an HCV infection in the blood. Other assays detect viral RNA, quantify the amount of viral RNA present, or define the virus's unique subtype.
Hepatitis C is one of five hepatitis viruses known to cause the disease, with the others being A, B, D, and E. HCV is spread by contact with contaminated blood, primarily through intravenous drug users sharing needles, but also through sharing blood-contaminated personal items like razors, sex with an infected person, healthcare occupational exposure, and, less commonly, from mother to baby during childbirth. HCV was commonly spread via blood transfusions before HCV tests became accessible in the 1990s.
While HCV is not as contagious as hepatitis B, no vaccination exists to prevent infection. In North America, hepatitis C infection is a common cause of chronic liver disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were about 30,500 instances of acute hepatitis C in the United States in 2014, with 2.7 to 3.9 million persons living with chronic hepatitis C.
Many people who are afflicted have no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected. The acute HCV infection may produce few to mild nonspecific symptoms, and the chronic infection may go unnoticed for a decade or two before producing enough liver damage to impair liver function.
A positive antibody test is followed with a hepatitis C RNA test, which detects virus genetic material, because the antibody test can remain positive in most patients even after they have eliminated the infection. A positive RNA test result indicates that the virus is present, that the infection has not cured, and that the person may need treatment. To help guide treatment, the hepatitis C genotyping test establishes which strain of virus is present.
A liver panel, which is a collection of tests used to examine the health of the liver, can also be ordered by healthcare providers.
Lab tests often ordered with a Hepatitis C Antibody test:
- Hepatitis A Antibody
- Hepatitis B Antibody
- Hepatitis Panel
- Hepatic Function Panel
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
Conditions where a Hepatitis C Antibody test is recommended:
A Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test may be required in the following conditions or situations:
- HCV Screening: Routine screening is recommended for individuals at higher risk for HCV infection or those born between 1945 and 1965, as they have a higher prevalence of the virus.
- Confirmation of HCV Infection: When initial HCV antibody tests yield positive results, further testing is necessary to confirm the presence of active HCV infection and assess the viral load.
- Monitoring and Treatment of HCV: Individuals diagnosed with chronic HCV infection may undergo regular monitoring of viral load during treatment to evaluate the response to antiviral therapy and assess treatment success.
How does my health care provider use a Hepatitis C Antibody test?
Hepatitis C tests are used to detect and diagnose hepatitis C virus infection, as well as to advise therapy and/or monitor the course of treatment.
An HCV antibody test is performed to determine whether or not you have been exposed to the virus before. It looks for antibodies to the virus, which indicates HCV infection. This test will not tell you if you have an active or prior HCV infection. There is some evidence that a "weakly positive" test could be a false positive. All positive antibody tests should be followed by an HCV RNA test, which identifies viral RNA in the blood to assess whether or not the person has a current infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The HCV antibody test can be used to establish which of the most prevalent hepatitis viruses is causing a person's symptoms as part of an acute viral hepatitis panel.
The tests listed below can help identify an infection and advise and monitor treatment:
HCV RNA tests: A quantitative HCV RNA test detects and counts viral RNA particles in the blood. This test can be used to confirm the virus's presence and diagnose a live infection. Viral load assays are also used before and throughout treatment to compare the amount of virus present before and after treatment to measure treatment response.
HCV RNA, Qualitative is used to determine whether an infection is present or past. If any HCV viral RNA is identified, the result is reported as "positive" or "detected"; otherwise, the result is ""negative"" or "not detected." This test is no longer often used.
To help guide treatment, viral genotyping is done to detect the kind, or genotype, of HCV present. HCV has five basic kinds and more than 50 subtypes; the most common, genotype 1, accounts for around 75% of infections in the United States. The medications chosen for treatment are influenced by the genotype of HCV infection.
What do my Hepatitis C Antibody test results mean?
Antibody tests for HCV are usually reported as "positive" or "negative."
If the virus is present, the results of HCV viral load tests are provided as a number. The result is frequently reported as "negative" or "not found" if no virus is present or if the amount of virus is too small to detect.
The table below shows how the HCV screening and follow-up tests are interpreted. If the HCV antibody test is positive, the person tested is infected or has likely been infected with hepatitis C at some point. If the HCV RNA test comes back positive, the person is currently infected. If no HCV viral RNA is found, the person either does not have an active infection or has very low levels of the virus.
Antibody to HCV HCV RNA Negative for HCV infection There is no infection or it is too soon after exposure for the test to be reliable; if suspicion persists, retesting at a later period may be necessary.
Positive or inconclusive Negative Past infection or no illness; if necessary, additional tests
Positive, Negative, or Indeterminate Infection currently present
An HCV viral load can be used to determine whether or not treatment is working for monitoring purposes. A high or increasing viral load could indicate that treatment isn't working, whereas a low, declining, or undetectable viral load could indicate that it is.
Successful treatment reduces viral load by 99 percent or more shortly after starting treatment and frequently results in undetectable viral load when treatment is finished. An undetectable viral load in a treated person's blood 12 weeks after the conclusion of treatment indicates that the HCV infection has responded to therapy, according to guidelines from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Disease Society of America.
The findings of the HCV genotype test determine the strain of HCV a person has and aid in treatment selection and duration. Treatment options vary depending on a number of criteria, including the person's HCV genotype and liver condition.
Most Common Questions About the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test:
Understanding the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR Test
What is the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test?
The Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test, commonly known as HCV Antibody test, is a two-step process to diagnose Hepatitis C infection. The first step is to test for antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the blood. The second test (HCV RNA Quantitative PCR) is performed to measure the quantity of the virus in the blood, confirming active infection.
Why is the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test done?
This test is used to diagnose a current or past infection with HCV. It is often done as part of routine screening for individuals at high risk for Hepatitis C, including those with a history of IV drug use, individuals who received blood transfusions before 1992, and people born between 1945 and 1965, among others.
Interpreting the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR Test Results
What does a positive result in the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test mean?
A positive HCV antibody test result means that you have been exposed to the virus at some point. The HCV RNA test determines whether the infection is current or past. If the HCV RNA test is also positive, this indicates an active infection. If the HCV RNA test is negative, this means the infection was in the past and the body has cleared it.
What does a negative result in the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test mean?
A negative result indicates that no HCV antibodies were detected in your blood, which usually means you have not been infected with Hepatitis C. However, if you've been recently exposed, you may not yet have developed antibodies, and the test could give a false negative result.
Can the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test differentiate between acute and chronic Hepatitis C infection?
The HCV antibody test can't differentiate between acute and chronic infection, but the HCV RNA test, when performed, can help in making this distinction. If HCV RNA is detected, it indicates a current infection, which could be either acute or chronic. Additional follow-up testing and monitoring would be necessary to distinguish between acute and chronic infection.
Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR Test and Specific Conditions
How important is the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test in diagnosing Hepatitis C?
This test is crucial for diagnosing Hepatitis C. While the HCV antibody test can indicate exposure to the virus, it cannot determine if an active infection is present. The HCV RNA test, which is conducted can confirm an active infection and quantify the amount of virus in the blood.
Why is it necessary to measure the quantity of the virus in the blood if the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test is positive?
Measuring the amount of virus in the blood (viral load) can help to determine the severity of the infection, inform treatment decisions, and monitor the effectiveness of antiviral therapy.
Can the Hepatitis C Antibody with RNA Quantitative PCR test be used to monitor response to Hepatitis C treatment?
Yes, the HCV RNA Quantitative PCR part of this test can be used to monitor response to treatment. A decrease in viral load can indicate that the treatment is working.
General Questions About the Test
How does the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test differ from other tests for Hepatitis C?
This test first checks for the presence of antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus and the HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test measures the amount of virus in the blood. This two-step approach allows for a more comprehensive diagnosis than either test alone.
Understanding Hepatitis C Infection
Why is it important to diagnose and treat Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause serious liver damage if left untreated. It can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Early detection and treatment can prevent these complications.
How is Hepatitis C transmitted, and can the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test prevent transmission?
Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, such as sharing needles for drug use, needlestick injuries in healthcare settings, or, less commonly, through sexual contact. The test itself does not prevent transmission, but knowing your status can help prevent spreading the virus to others.
If I had Hepatitis C in the past, can the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test determine if I am immune to the virus?
Once you have been infected with Hepatitis C, you will carry the antibodies for life, which can be detected by the HCV antibody test. However, unlike some other viruses, having had Hepatitis C does not provide immunity, and you can be infected again.
What other tests might be used along with the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test in managing Hepatitis C?
Other tests may include a liver function test to evaluate the health of your liver, a genotype test to determine the specific type of HCV (which can guide treatment), and imaging tests to look for liver damage.
What lifestyle changes might be recommended if the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test is positive?
If you test positive for Hepatitis C, lifestyle changes could include avoiding alcohol (which can further damage the liver), avoiding certain medications that can harm the liver, not sharing personal items that might have blood on them, and practicing safe sex.
How accurate is the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test?
This test is highly accurate. The HCV antibody test is very sensitive and specific for antibodies to the virus, while the HCV RNA test can detect even low levels of the virus in the blood.
Are there any limitations to the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test?
One limitation of this test is that it cannot distinguish between an acute and chronic infection. Also, the HCV antibody test may not detect an infection that occurred very recently, as it can take several weeks for antibodies to develop.
Are there other types of Hepatitis viruses and do they require different tests?
Yes, besides Hepatitis C, there are also Hepatitis A, B, D, and E viruses, each of which requires a different test for detection.
Can I be co-infected with other Hepatitis viruses and how does the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test help?
Yes, it's possible to be co-infected with other Hepatitis viruses, such as Hepatitis B. The HCV Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test only detects Hepatitis C infection so separate tests would be needed for other Hepatitis viruses.
Can the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test be used in both adults and children?
Yes, this test can be used in both adults and children who are at risk of Hepatitis C infection.
If I am pregnant and the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test is positive, can my baby be infected?
Yes, if you have an active Hepatitis C infection, there is a risk of transmission to your baby during childbirth. It's important to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Can the Hepatitis C Antibody with HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test help in deciding the treatment plan?
Yes, the results of the HCV RNA test, which measures the amount of virus in your blood, can help your healthcare provider decide the most effective treatment plan for you.
Can a person with no symptoms still test positive in the Hepatitis C Antibody to HCV RNA Quantitative PCR test?
Yes, many people with Hepatitis C don't have symptoms, particularly in the early stages of the infection. This makes routine screening important for those at risk, even in the absence of symptoms.
We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.