HCV Antibody Test

What is a HCV Antibody Test?

The HCV antibody test is used for diagnosing hepatitis C virus infection. This blood test detects the presence of hepatitis C antibodies in the bloodstream. When an individual contracts the hepatitis C virus, their body produces antibodies to combat the viral infection. This test is usually recommended for those in high-risk groups, such as drug users, healthcare workers, and children born to HCV-positive mothers. It is also advised to undergo this test if one experiences symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, decreased appetite, dark urine, jaundice, or diarrhoea, as HCV attacks the liver.

Why do I need an HCV antibody test?

It is recommended that individuals between the ages of 18 and 79 get tested for HCV antibodies. Some people do not get sick from the hepatitis C virus, but it slowly affects their liver. The test can also be used to prevent the transmission of hepatitis C infection. If you are in a high-risk category, such as a healthcare worker or an illegal drug user, you must take this test.

What does a negative HCV antibody test result indicate?

A non-reactive or negative antibody test indicates that you are not infected with the hepatitis C virus at this time. You must get tested again if you suspect you have been exposed to hepatitis C within the last 6 months.

What does a reactive or positive HCV antibody test result mean?

  • A reactive or positive antibody test indicates that you have had hepatitis C at some point.
  • Once infected, people will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true whether they have recovered from the virus, have been treated, or have the virus in their blood.

What should you do if the HCV antibody test is positive?

If the antibody test comes reactive or positive, you will need to have another test to determine if you have hepatitis C. This is known as a nucleic acid test (NAT) for HCV RNA. This test is also known as a PCR test. If the NAT for HCV RNA is:

  • Negative : You were infected with the hepatitis C virus, but the virus is no longer in the body as it was treated or cleansed naturally.
  • Positive : When the virus is in the blood.

If you have a positive antibody test and a positive NAT for HCV RNA, talk to your physician about treatment options. Most people with hepatitis C can be cured in 8 to 12 weeks with available treatments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What additional testing is needed to confirm an active HCV infection?

To confirm an active HCV infection, a second test known as the HCV RNA test is required. This test reveals the presence of the virus in a person's blood.

2. How long will it take for the HCV antibody test results to be available?

The time it takes to acquire HCV antibody test results varies, but results are usually available within a few days to a week.

3. What is the principle of the HCV antibody test?

The HCV antibody, or the anti-HCV test, detects antibodies to the hepatitis C virus in the blood. Antibodies are substances released into the bloodstream when an individual becomes infected.

4. How sensitive is the anti-HCV antibody test?

The HCV Ab test is used for basic hepatitis C screening. The test employs enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) to detect the presence of hepatitis C antibodies in serum. The test outcome is either positive or negative. The test result is either affirmative or negative. Third-generation EIAs have a sensitivity/specificity of about 99%.

5. What precautions should be taken for HCV positives?

Reusing or sharing should be avoided. Avoid sharing personal care items that may have blood on them (razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes). If you work in health care or public safety, take universal blood/body fluid precautions and handle needles and other sharps safely.

6. What is the cost of an HCV antibody test?

The HCV test cost in India starts from Rs. 420.

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