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Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease

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Hepatitis C antibody: Test of Hepatitis C

for Veterans and the Public

Hepatitis C antibody (HCV Ab, anti-HCV) - Hepatitis C for Patients

This is the first test for determining whether you have been infected with hepatitis C. The results will come back as either positive or negative.

Explanation of test results:

If this test result is positive, it means your body was exposed to the hepatitis C virus and made antibodies (for more information, see "Antibody" section under Associated Lab Tests). However, it does not tell you whether you are still infected with hepatitis C. If the antibody test result is positive, you should be tested for hepatitis C RNA (see "Hepatitis C RNA"), which determines whether you are chronically infected. The lab will perform this RNA test automatically if your hepatitis C antibody test is positive.

If the antibody test result is negative, it means you have not been infected with the hepatitis C virus, and further testing for hepatitis C usually is not needed.

Other things to know:

  • After a successful course of treatment for hepatitis C, the hepatitis C antibody remains detectable, but the hepatitis C RNA will be undetectable.
  • If you plan to donate blood, you will be tested for the hepatitis C antibody and will be turned away even if you do not have an active infection.
  • Any patient with a positive test result for the hepatitis C antibody should have additional tests to determine whether or not the virus is still active.