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Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease

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Hepatitis C RNA Qualitative Testing: Test of Hepatitis C

for Veterans and the Public

Hepatitis C RNA qualitative testing - Hepatitis C for Patients

The qualitative HCV RNA tests will report whether the hepatitis C virus is present in the bloodstream or not. The result is reported as either "detected" or "not detected."

Explanation of test results:

If a qualitative RNA test is positive (detected), then it is confirmed that the patient has chronic hepatitis C. The "qualitative" test is more accurate than the "quantitative" test because qualitative tests are able to detect very low levels of the virus.

Other things to know:

  • If a patient has a quantitative test that shows no detectable virus, but has a positive result with the qualitative test, it means there is a very low level of virus that can be detected only with the qualitative test.
  • The qualitative test will become negative during hepatitis C treatment and indicates a good response.
  • A negative qualitative test 10-12 weeks after finishing hepatitis C treatment means you are cured.
  • The qualitative test result also will be negative if the patient clears the hepatitis C virus on their own, soon after infection, or "spontaneously." If the result is still positive after 6 months, treatment should be considered.