Hepatitis C Antibodies
This test measures antibodies against hepatitis C in your blood which will tell you whether you have ever been infected with hepatitis C. Different laboratories will report results in different ways. If antibodies are reported as “detected”, “positive” or “reactive” then your result shows that you have been infected with hepatitis C. This test will not tell you whether your infection is still active so a positive test will need to be followed up with a test for a current infection. If your result is reported as “not detected”, “negative” or “non-reactive”, this means that you have not been infected by hepatitis C. If you have not allowed enough time from your potential exposure to hepatitis C and your test, there may not have been sufficient time for antibodies to develop. This means that there is a risk that your test will return a “false negative”. If you believe that you are at risk of a hepatitis C infection you are advised to repeat the test again in 6 months.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause inflammation and scarring of the liver. If it is left untreated over many years, it can cause irreparable liver damage. About 20% of infected people clear the virus by themselves and, if treated, most people recover well from a hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis C is normally transmitted by blood to blood contact. The most common cause of a hepatitis C infection is from shared needles, but it can also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn baby, and (less commonly) through unprotected sex. Health care workers or people who may come into contact with other people’s blood through their work may be required to check for hepatitis C.
There is no vaccine to protect against hepatitis C.