How is diagnosis of Hepatitis C made?


Topic: Hepatitis C, June 2000

Dr. Lee:
If Hepatitis C is typically silent, meaning it doesn't produce much in terms of symptoms, how is the diagnosis usually made in the population?

Dr. Edward Block:
Most people infected with Hepatitis C are asymptomatic (not aware that they have hepatitis). They may be found years later to have mildly elevated liver tests on routine blood screening. These liver tests are called SGOT (ALT) and SGPT (AST).

Abnormal elevations in SGOT (ALT) and SGPT (AST) only indicate hepatitis (liver inflammation). Other blood tests are necessary to determine that the hepatitis is due to hepatitis C infection.

Hepatitis C antibody blood test is commonly the first test ordered by the doctor. A positive hepatitis C antibody test indicates exposure to HCV though it dose not always indicate active infection.

Hepatitis C RNA (HCV RNA) blood test actually measures the virus. A positive HCV RNA test indicates active infection.

Some of our hepatitis C patients come to us via blood banks. During the process of screening blood donors some tested positive for hepatitis C.

People applying for life insurance and disability policies will often also be tested for hepatitis C, and we find a fair number of newly diagnosed patients being referred in this manner as well.

Please refer to the Hepatitis C article for more details.

The published answers represent the opinions and perspectives of the doctors and pharmacists of and are for educational purposes only. They should not be used to replace or substitute for timely consultation with your doctor. Accuracy of information cannot be guaranteed.

Please remember, information can be subject to interpretation and can become obsolete.

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