Diagnosing Hepatitis C
Once you’ve been infected with hepatitis C, the virus stays in your body for life. Diagnosing an existing hepatitis C infection requires several blood tests.
Blood tests used in hepatitis C diagnosis:
- Hepatitis C antibody test - A blood test that shows whether you've ever had hepatitis C. If this test comes back positive, your doctor will follow up with a viral load test.
- Viral load test - A test that measures ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood. Viral RNA signals there is virus in your blood.
Genotype - If the viral load test is positive, you'll be given a blood test to determine which hepatitis strain (genotype) you have. There are currently six known genotypes. Knowing genotype is essential as it determines which treatment you'll receive.
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It’s important that you get tested for hepatitis C often if you’re at higher risk of contracting the disease. See if you should get tested and learn more about hepatitis C diagnosis.
Once HCV infection is confirmed, the next step is determining the extent of damage. Non-invasive tests such as a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound can provide detailed images of the liver. Occasionally a liver biopsy may be necessary to determine the degree of liver damage.
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