The Hepatitis C RNA PCR Quantitative test is used to look for infections with the Hepatitis C virus. This test looks for the genetic material of the virus. Because viral genetic material may be detectable earlier than antibodies which develop in response to an infection, PCR testing can be used to screen for a recent exposure. Quantitative PCR testing, also known as viral load testing, is often ordered to monitor how effective a patient’s treatment is at controlling the virus. This test is also useful as a confirmation for patients who have had a positive result from a HCV Abs test. Results for this test are quantitative, meaning they will provide a numerical result for the level of the virus in a person’s body.
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 RNA PCR Quantitative test is most commonly ordered by patients who are undergoing or have undergone treatment to provide a measure of the virus in their system. This test can also be used as a screening by patients who may have had a recent exposure or to confirm the results of a previous Hepatitis C test.
Someone who wishes to screen for Hepatitis C but is not concerned about a recent exposure, may wish to order the Hepatitis C Antibodies test.
Turnaround for the Hepatitis C RNA PCR Quantitative test is typically 5-7 business days.
The Hepatitis C PCR test can typically detect the virus after a few weeks after a suspected contact or exposure. Some people may be detectable earlier.
This Hepatitis C testing does not have any special requirements.