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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Tests will look for a genetic material or RNA of the virus in the blood that causes hepatitis or for the proteins the body makes against HCV. The proteins will be present in your blood, if you have a hepatitis C infection or might have had in the past. To prevent the spread of the infection and to choose the proper treatment, it is important to know the virus causing the infection.
Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C has been called a silent disease because people can get infected and may not know about it. Chronic Hepatitis C can cause serious health problems including liver damage, liver failure, and even liver cancer.
Anti-HCV antibody test looks for antibodies to HCV in the blood, showing an HCV infection has occurred. However, this test cannot differentiate an acute and long-term infection. Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) is the first test done detect anti-HCV antibodies.
HCV RNA testing uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify an active hepatitis C infection. The RNA can be found in a person’s’ blood within two weeks after infection. HCV RNA testing may be done to double-check a positive result on the HCV antibody test, measure the level of virus in the blood or show how well a person with HCV is responding to treatment.