At a Glance
Why Get Tested?
To determine if you have contracted the hepatitis C virus and to monitor treatment of the infection
When to Get Tested?
If you may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, through contact with infected blood
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
The Test Sample
What is being tested?
Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect and damage the liver. In most cases, it is contracted through exposure to blood (usually from sharing contaminated needles while injecting drugs or, before 1990, through a blood transfusion) and it can be passed from mother to baby. Other ways it can occasionally be transmitted include needlestick injuries in a healthcare setting, sharing razor blades and toothbrushes, tattooing and body piercing and rarely through sexual transmission where blood-to-blood contact occurs. Hepatitis C antibody is produced in response to exposure to the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The most common test for HCV looks for these antibodies in your blood. Other tests detect the presence of the actual virus, the amount of virus present, or determine the specific subtype of virus.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is taken by needle from a vein in your arm.
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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.