If your doctor suspects that you might have hepatitis C, he or
she will order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. The blood
tests for hepatitis C include the following:
- Anti-HCV (hepatitis C virus) -- This test looks for
antibodies (proteins that the body produces when exposed to a virus
or bacteria) to the hepatitis C virus. This test does not tell you
if you have hepatitis C, only if you've been exposed to the
virus. If this test is positive (detects antibodies), it is usually
verified with the HCV RIBA test, which confirms the presence of
hepatitis C antibodies.
- HCR-RNA test --This is the test that tells you if
you have hepatitis C by detecting the actual virus in your blood.
If the virus is found, the test is positive. If it is not found,
the test is negative.
- Quantitative HCV test -- This test measures the
amount of hepatitis C virus in your blood (viral load). This test
is also given after you start treatment for hepatitis C in order to
determine if the treatment is working and the viral load is
It's possible that the anti-HCV test might be "false
positive." (The test looks positive but is actually negative.) This
is why the first test is confirmed with the HCV RIBA test. A test
might also be "false negative;" in this case, the person might be
infected with the hepatitis C virus, but the antibodies
haven't developed yet.
Your doctor might also take a liver biopsy to determine if you
have hepatitis C. During a liver biopsy, the doctor inserts a
needle between the lower ribs on the right side and into your liver
to take out a small piece. The doctor then examines the liver
sample for hepatitis.