Screening for hepatitis C
Testing for hepatitis C infection in people who have a high risk of coming in contact with the virus may help doctors begin treatment or recommend lifestyle changes that may slow liver damage. This is recommended because hepatitis C infection often begins damaging the liver before it causes signs and symptoms.
People who may want to talk to their doctors about screening for hepatitis C infection include:
- Anyone who has ever injected illicit drugs
- Anyone with unexplained, unusual liver function test results
- Babies born to mothers with hepatitis C
- Health care and emergency workers who have been exposed to blood or accidental needle sticks
- People with hemophilia who were treated with clotting factors before 1987
- People who have ever undergone long-term hemodialysis treatments
- People who received blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992
- Sexual partners of anyone diagnosed with hepatitis C infection
- People with HIV infection
- Anyone born from 1945 to 1965
Blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C
Blood tests may help to:
- Determine whether you have the hepatitis C virus
- Measure the quantity of the hepatitis C virus in your blood (viral load)
- Evaluate the genetic makeup of the virus (genotyping), which helps determine your treatment options
Testing samples of liver tissue to determine severity of liver damage
Your doctor may also recommend a procedure to remove a small sample of liver tissue for laboratory testing. A liver biopsy can help determine the severity of the disease and guide treatment decisions. During a liver biopsy, your doctor inserts a thin needle through your skin and into your liver to remove the tissue sample.
Aug. 13, 2013
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed June 14, 2013.
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed June 14, 2013.
- Diagnosis, management and treatment of hepatitis C: An update. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/guidelinelisting.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/C/cFAQ.htm. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- CAM and hepatitis C: A focus on herbal supplements. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/hepatitisc/hepatitiscfacts.htm. Accessed June 13, 2013.
- An update on treatment of genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C virus infection: 2011 practice guideline by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/guidelinelisting.aspx. Accessed June 13, 2013
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Recommendations for the identification of chronic hepatitis C virus infection among persons born during 1945-1965. MMWR. 2012;61:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6104a1.htm?s_cid=rr6104a1_w. Accessed June 17, 2013.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. June 30, 2013.