Hepatitis C is diagnosed through several blood tests which are available.
- The antibody test
The antibody blood test determines whether you have ever been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus by testing for the presence of antibodies to the virus. Antibodies are produced by your immune system to fight germs. Antibodies to HCV can be detected in the blood, usually within two or three months after the virus enters the body
A positive test indicates that you have been infected at some stage. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are currently infected, as you may have since cleared the virus from your body.
The test will not show a positive reaction for 2-3 months after infection because your body takes time to make these antibodies, so a viral load is necessary to confirm infection.
- Hepatitis C RIBA test
The hepatitis C- Recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) is the confirmation test for the hepatitis C antibody.
A positive test confirms that detection of a hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) was a true positive.
If the HCV RIBA result is negative, it means there has not been infection with hepatitis C. If an earlier hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) test had been positive, then this was a false positive.
HCV RIBA is not a test that is needed for most patients. Usually, it is performed by blood banks to check for hepatitis C in people who donate blood.
- HCV quantitative test (viral load)
The only way to tell if you are currently infected is to have a second blood test, called a PCR test. The PCR blood test checks if the virus is still present by detecting whether it is reproducing inside your body.
HCV quantitative test (viral load) is often used before and during treatment to find out how long treatment needs to be given and to check how well treatment is working.
- HCV viral Genotypic Testing
HCV viral genotyping is used to find out which Geno-type of the HCV virus is present. HCV has six Geno-types, and some are easier to treat than others. Geno-type 1 & 6 are the most common types of HCV in Vietnam