The most common tests
A variety of different tests are used to diagnose hepatitis C. These include:
• HCV Antibody Test – This test is usually the first test, and only tells you if you have been ever been exposed to HCV. Usually this is a BLOOD TEST but other methods sometimes used are a rapid saliva test (from a mouth swab), and a dried blood spot test (from a finger prick)
• HCV Viral Load Test or HCV RNA Test – This is the second test which you take if your HCV Antibody Test comes out POSITIVE. This test will tell you if your body successfully fought off the virus (about 20-25% of people are lucky) or if your body was unsuccessful, and you have developed chronic hepatitis C (CHC). If you test positive to this one, you could infect others and will likely be offered to start treatment soon. This test also tells the quantity of virus you have in your blood on the day of the test (it can vary substantially from day to day).
• HCV Genotype/Subtype Test – This test will tell you what strain of HCV you have. This information might determine which kind of treatment you are required.
• Liver Biopsy – This invasive test, which shows your doctor how badly your liver is damaged, is very seldom used any more.
• Fibroscan – This is a non-invasive test, similar to an ultrasound, which also shows your doctor how badly your liver is damaged.
• Other Non-Invasive Tests – These tests, including FibroSure and APRI, use mathematical formulae to analyze your blood tests to determine how badly your liver is damaged.