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Viral Hepatitis

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FAQ: What are the tests for hepatitis C?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the tests for hepatitis C?

There are two blood tests needed to diagnose hepatitis C:

The antibody test--called HCV antibody, HCV Ab, or anti-HCV--is done first. (Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system to fight off the virus.) If this test is positive, it means that you have been infected with hepatitis C at some point in the past. If your antibody test is negative, then you have never been infected with hepatitis C; if you were infected within the past month or so, the test may not be accurate; you may needed to be retested at a later date.

However, a positive antibody test does not tell you if you still have hepatitis C. For that, you need to have a HCV RNA test, which determines whether the virus itself is in the bloodstream.

If any RNA is present in the blood after 6 months from time of infection, then you have chronic hepatitis C.

If no RNA is detected in the blood after 6 months, you no longer have hepatitis C.