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Viral Hepatitis

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What Tests Do I Need?

for Veterans and the Public

What Tests Do I Need?

There are usually only two blood tests that need to be done to determine if you have chronic hepatitis C.

The first test your doctor will perform is called an "antibody" test, to see if your body has developed antibodies to HCV. (Antibodies are particles your body makes to fight off infections.) This test is sometimes called an anti-HCV test. A positive antibody result means that, at some point in your life, you were exposed to the hepatitis C virus, and you developed antibodies to fight off the virus. (Another name for this antibody test is EIA.) But just having a positive antibody test does not mean you have chronic hepatitis C infection.

If your hepatitis C antibody test is positive, then your doctor will perform a second test to see if you still have the hepatitis C virus in your body. This test is called a hepatitis C viral load test (or RNA test). If this test is positive, you have chronic hepatitis C, and you may eventually have health problems from the virus.

You do not need a liver biopsy to determine if you have hepatitis C.

For more details about these tests, go to Understanding Lab Tests.