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What to Know About False Positives in Hepatitis C Testing

How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?

In general, it is recommended to go through a two-step screening procedure to diagnose hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C Antibody Test

In the Hepatitis C antibody test, the main goal is to identify antibodies that the body’s immune system release to fight the virus that causes the infection. Nevertheless, this procedure does not tell exactly whether these antibodies exist due to previous or active hepatitis C. In fact, antibodies can still remain after successful treatment. Negative results may be interpreted as there are no hepatitis C infections. But if you have had exposure to the disease over the last six months, an antibody test should be done again in the future. A positive result may require other tests to confirm the presence of the infection. [2]

Hepatitis C RNA PCR Test

The RNA PCT procedure identifies RNA, which is the genetic material of the virus that causes hepatitis C. It is done with a technique called polymerase chain reaction testing. A doctor or healthcare provider may suggest this test to verify a positive result from the antibody test. In addition to providing information about the presence of the virus in the body, and RNA PCR test could also present the virus load, which means the number of viral elements in the blood. [3]