Hepatitis C is a debilitating disease that can lead to cirrhosis of your liver, liver failure, or liver cancer. The disease is caused by the blood borne Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). The danger here is that you may not be aware that you are carrying the virus, until much damage has been caused. According to Web-MD, telltale signs you are infected include achy muscles, joint pain, fatigue, dark urine, and jaundice. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to HCV can lead to chronic and acute hepatitis infections. The WHO noted that there are currently 130-150 million people worldwide who are infected with HCV, and that 500 000 people die annually as a result of hepatitis C related infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that those with risks to HCV infection be tested, since 1998. Testing works by identifying if you have the RNA of the HCV virus in your bloodstream. It also identifies whether your body has produced the proteins or antibodies utilized when fighting a HCV infection. If the antibodies and RNA is present, it’s likely you are infected with HCV. These are the various types of HCV testing available. If you know you may have placed yourself at risk to contracting the virus via infected blood, especially if you work in the medical profession, it’s best to be tested for all types. This will ensure that the right type of HCV is treated.
The HCV Antibody Test
This HCV test will detect if you have HCV antibodies in your bloodstream. Your health care practitioner may conduct an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test initially here.
Be advised that this test may not be able to detect whether a present HCV infection is chronic or acute. Your doctor may conduct this test if you have had some of the symptoms related to Hepatitis C. He or she may also conduct this test if your results reflected as abnormal on a liver panel. This test will also be able to detect if you’ve had a previous HCV infection.
The RNA HCV Test
This test identifies whether or not you have the genetic material of the virus in your bloodstream. This form of testing utilizes a polymerase chain reaction to detect if you have a current infection.
Your doctor will take a tiny sample of your DNA and use the polymerase enzyme to duplicate copies of your DNA. This test may also ascertain whether you have a mutation in your genes that may cause diseases.
Detection via the RIBA HCV Test
Your health care practitioner will usually conduct this test after a HCV antibody test. Reason being is that this test can check if a positive result obtained for an EIA test is correct, and not a false-positive.
A false-positive result occurs when an infection is detected when there is no infection. The RIBA test will essentially detect whether your body has produced HCV antibodies.
Testing for Viral Genotyping
It’s always beneficial to know what genotype of the virus is present if HCV is detected in your bloodstream. This will ensure that you receive the correct treatment, as there are six different genotypes of the virus. A genotype classes a virus based on its genetic material or RNA.
Viral Load HCV Test
This test comes in very handy if you are diagnosed and being treated for an HCV infection. The viral load test deciphers the necessary duration of your treatment, and also whether or not your current treatment is effective.
If the treatment is not that effective, your doctor may make some changes for better results.
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