December 1st, 2012
Hepatitis C is generally diagnosed by two blood tests11 – the first is the antibody test, which will show whether you have ever been exposed to the virus. It tests for antibodies to the virus generated by your immune system. Antibodies are produced by the immune system to fight viruses when they enter the blood.
It takes the body some time to make these antibodies so a positive reaction will not be shown for some months after infection.
If this antibody test is negative but you have been at risk of hepatitis C your doctor may advise you to take another test in a few months.
If your test results are positive this means that you have been infected with hepatitis C at some stage. Remember, 20% of people will naturally recover so this does not necessarily mean that you’re currently infected.
The second test is called a PCR test and this is done to check whether the virus is reproducing inside your body.
If you have hep C, your doctor might advise additional tests to check for liver damage. You may also be referred to a specialist to discuss the best treatment for you.