Contributed by -Healthians Team

What is the anti HCV test?

Anti HCV test is used to diagnose hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Hepatitis C infection causes liver inflammation and may lead to serious damage if not treated on time. In some cases, the infection is acute and causes short-term illness, while in others, it can be chronic and lead to serious, long-term health problems like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

When the body comes in contact with the virus, it produces proteins called antibodies to defend itself against the invader. The anti HCV test identifies these antibodies. Their presence or absence in the blood helps in making a diagnosis.


Who should get tested?

It is recommended that everyone who is 18 years of age or older should get screened for HCV antibody at least once. Besides, those who have undergone any single or multiple of the following actions should also get screened – 

  • Injected illegal drugs
  • Were in a long-term dialysis
  • Child born to HCV-positive mother
  • Were exposed to the contaminated blood
  • Healthcare workers at the risk of needlestick injuries
  • Have chronic liver disease
  • Have HIV 

Moreover, your doctor may order an anti HCV test if he/she notices symptoms of HCV infection in you. These symptoms of hepatitis C infection include – 

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Light-coloured stool
  • Jaundice


Why is the anti HCV test needed?

The liver is one of the most important organs of your body. And hepatitis C infection can severely damage it if the infection isn’t diagnosed and treated on time. This infection is also known as the silent killer because it doesn’t cause symptoms in most of the cases. Due to that, it often gets ignored unless it has caused some serious harm to the functioning of the liver.

Although, hepatitis C infection does not spread through coughing, sneezing, hugging or by sharing utensils, coming in contact with other people’s blood may increase your risk of getting infected. Some of the ways through which this can happen are – 

  • Sharing needles, syringes, or any equipment to inject drugs
  • An infected mother passing the virus to the child at the time of birth
  • Healthcare professionals not following proper hygiene practices
  • Getting tattoos or piercings from unhygienic places
  • Sharing personal items like razors, nail cutters or toothbrushes
  • Having unprotected sex

Therefore, anyone who is at risk should consult with a doctor and take the anti HCV test. The test can prove beneficial in the early diagnosis of the infection and will allow you to start the treatment and prevent the progression of the infection.


What does anti HCV test results mean?

The anti HCV test results either come back positive or negative.

A positive anti HCV result means that the antibodies against hepatitis C infection were identified in the blood sample. In this case, further testing may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

And a negative anti HCV result means that no antibodies were detected in the blood sample and that you are safe. But, results may come back negative even when the number of antibodies is too low to be detected by the test. 


How is the anti HCV test done?

To perform the anti HCV test, a small sample of your blood is needed. It is usually drawn from a vein in the arm. The process is simple, quick and relatively painless. Any kind of special preparation, including fasting, is not required before the test. However, certain pre-existing medical conditions and medicines may influence your test results. Hence, it is recommended that you inform your doctor about any such conditions beforehand. 

Take the Anti HCV test