Hepatitis C screening is important mainly for two reasons. Firstly, it is prevalent, especially in certain geographical areas and some at risk population. Also, hepatitis C can progress silently with minimal symptoms for some time.
Acute hepatitis C is considered the first stage of hepatitis C which may lead to chronic hepatitis if not treated. The major differences between the two types of hepatitis C are:
There are 4 screening tests for hepatitis C, including:
Hepatitis C antibody test
If you’re suspected to have hepatitis C, your doctor may ask you to undergo the hepatitis C antibody test, which reveals whether your blood contains hepatitis C antibodies. Detection of such antibodies confirms that you have had hepatitis C at some stage of your life. However, the hepatitis C antibody test doesn’t show if you’re currently infected with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C qualitative test (PCR test)
Once the hepatitis C antibody test shows a positive result, your doctor will ask you to undergo the hepatitis C RNA qualitative test (PCR test), which is more specific, as it depends on the detection of the nucleic acids of hepatitis C virus in blood. Therefore, the PCR test enables your doctor to know if you currently have hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C quantitative test (viral load)
While you are on hepatitis C treatment, you’ll need to know whether the treatment is working. To ascertain this, your doctor may have to perform the hepatitis C quantitative test, which will shows the quantity of the hepatitis C virus present in your blood before and after the treatment.
Hepatitis C Genotyping
For treatment of hepatitis C, it will be useful to identify the specific genotype of hepatitis C. There are 6 distinct genotypes (genotype 1 to 6), which are useful in prescribing treatment. For example, genotype 2 and 3 are more likely to respond to treatment, compared to genotype 1.
Liver biopsy test
The liver biopsy test gauges a variety of important markers, such as:
As blood is the most contagious route of hepatitis C transmission, there are generally five categories of people who need to undergo a screening tests for hepatitis C. These categories include:
Conclusion: Hepatitis C infection is treatable with the latest medication, with cure rates in excess of 90%. Hepatitis C treatment can help avoid the development of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.
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