What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States with about 3.2 million people testing positive. Hepatitis C is spread through contact with contaminated blood during intravenous drug use sharing of needles) or in healthcare settings by health professionals. HCV is rarely spread through sexual intercourse. It is possible to have Hepatitis C and not know it because early stages of the infection could be asymptomatic (no symptoms) or show mild fever . It takes 8-9 weeks for HCV antibodies to develop in the body.
How do you test for hepatitis C?
Our FDA-approved Hepatitis C Antibody Test is a blood test. As the industry “gold standard” for hepatitis C tests, it searches for antibodies released by the body to fight the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Our doctors recommend this hepatitis C antibody blood test for routine HCV screenings for acute (new) and chronic (long-term) infections.
How is it transmitted?
It is transmitted through contact with contaminated blood mostly through intravenous drug use or exposure in healthcare settings. It is sometimes spread through oral, anal or vaginal sex as well as blood transfusions and organ transplants.
How soon can I get tested after exposure?
Hep C antibody tests can detect the presence of HCV 8-9 weeks after exposure. Our doctors recommend giving your body enough time to develop antibodies to the hep C virus before taking the test to eliminate any chances of false positive results.
What do I need to do to prepare for a hepatitis C test
You do not need to do anything or fast to prepare for the hep C test. Our testing center needs only a small amount of blood.
How we test for Hep C
Our doctors test for hep C using the FDA-approved hepatitis C Antibody test. This hep C test searches for antibodies produced by the body in response to the presence of the virus in the bloodstream. The technicians in our CLIA-certified labs take a small blood sample to conduct the test. No undressing or uncomfortable swabbing is necessary.
All laboratory testing, including STD tests, accuracy rates are measured in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Our FDA-approved hep C test has a sensitivity rate of 100% and a specificity of 99.99%.
More Information About Hepatitis C Testing
Does hepatitis C testing use blood or urine?
The Hepatitis C Antibody Test is a blood test that searches for antibodies to the hep virus in the bloodstream. Only a small blood sample is needed to complete the test.
What do I need to do to prepare for the test?
The Hep C Antibody test is a blood test, and no fasting or any other preparation is needed.
When is the right time to test?
Different people react differently to the Hep C Virus (HCV). On average, it takes the body about 8-9 weeks to create antibodies. This is the time recommended by our doctors to test for hepatitis C. You should also have a follow-up test 3 months post-exposure to confirm that there is no active hepatitis C (HCV) infection.
What will the test results say?
If negative, no hepatitis C antibodies were found in your blood. If positive, hepatitis C antibodies were found in your blood.
Although uncommon, 10% of positives may be “false positives.” In those cases, antibodies for the hepatitis C virus are sometimes found because your body may have fought the virus in the past. If your results are positive, our doctors may recommend follow-up tests to determine if you have an active infection.
Can it be cured or treated?
Depending on whether it is acute (new) or chronic (long-lasting), no treatment may be necessary. Many may not even be aware that they have the hepatitis C virus since its symptoms can be mild and may feel like the flu.
Acute hepatitis C can be managed through healthy diet, taking plenty of fluids and adequate rest. It is also recommended to see a liver specialist to ensure that your liver has not been affected.
Untreated or chronic hepatitis C infection can lead to serious liver disease, including liver failure. Diagnosing hepatitis C before it progresses to the chronic stage increases your chances of treating the infection without serious complications.
Who needs hepatitis C testing?
If you were born between 1945 and 1965 or had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992, it is recommended that you get tested for hepatitis C. Or If you are a current or former injection drug user, testing is advisable. If you have had a recent unprotected sexual encounter or live with somebody who has Hepatitis C, you should consider taking a hepatitis C test as part of your routine STD testing.
When is the Right Time to Test?
Now is the best time to test for hepatitis C. Know your sexual health status today.
If you have had a recent unprotected sexual encounter with someone whose status you do not know, you should get tested. Also, if you have recently been exposed to needles or been injured by a sharp object, you are at risk of contracting hep C. Getting tested now is the best option to prevent acute hepatitis C from developing into chronic hep C. On average it takes the body about 8-9 weeks to create antibodies. This is the doctor recommended period for hepatitis C testing.
Also if you have not been tested for other STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV-1, HIV-2, hepatitis A and B, herpes-1 or herpes-2, in the last year, our doctors recommend taking the all-inclusive 10 Test Panel to ensure that you are completely STD free.
We also offer a chlamydia-gonorrhea test panel. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are known as co-existing infections, meaning that having one infection may put you at risk of having the other.