The Hepatitis C Abs test is the most commonly ordered screening for Hepatitis C (HCV) infections. This test looks for antibodies which develop in response to an infection. These antibodies are usually detectable at 4-12 weeks or greater after exposure. Results for this test are quantitative and will indicate a reactive (positive), nonreactive (negative), or in some cases, equivocal result.
Hepatitis C is a virus spread through contact with infected blood. Nearly 80% of Hepatitis C infections develop into chronic Hepatitis. The number of people worldwide with chronic Hepatitis C infections is around 150 million. Chronic Hepatitis C infections can lead to serious health complication such as Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer. Many HCV infections display no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, some of the most common include:
• Loss of appetite
• Abdominal pain
• Dark colored urine
• Grey feces
• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Hepatitis C can be spread in a variety of ways. Some of the most common include intravenous drug use, improperly cleaned or sterilized tattoo and piercing equipment, sexual contact, blood transfusions (prior to the early 1990's when stricter screening techniques were implemented for donated blood), and from an infected mother to her infant during birth.
The Hepatitis C Abs test is most commonly ordered as a routine screening. This test can be ordered by anyone who is concerned they have been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms or not. For a recent exposure, the Hepatitis C RNA PCR Qualitative test may be more accurate.
Turnaround time for the Hepatitis C Abs test is usually 1 business day.
The incubation period is usually between 4-12 weeks. In rare circumstances, it could take past 6 months to be detectible.
This Hepatitis C testing does not have any special requirements.