Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide

 

Is there a rapid test for detecting the Hep C virus?

On January 17, 2017, Health Canada approved the use and sale of a point-of-care hepatitis C antibody test.  It is called the OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test and is produced by Orasure Technologies. It is distributed in Canada by KNS Canada.

How does it work?

The test works by checking a small drop of blood, taken from a finger prick, for antibodies to hepatitis C. It provides results in 20 minutes.

A trained healthcare provider will collect a blood sample using a vial containing certain chemicals. Then, a test strip is added to the vial. If there are antibodies in the blood, they will stick to the proteins on the test strip and react with the chemicals to produce a colored line. The process can take place wherever the blood sample is collected.

What do the results mean?

The test detects hepatitis C antibodies. If a person has hepatitis C antibodies, it means they have been exposed to hepatitis C at some point in the past. This test does not reveal if a person currently has hepatitis C.

This test is more than 98% accurate at detecting these antibodies. However, false positives are possible with rapid tests. This means that the test says that a person has hepatitis C antibodies when they actually do not.

If a person receives a positive result, it is important to follow up with a healthcare provider to test for the hepatitis C virus using an RNA or core antigen test. These tests confirm if a person currently has hepatitis C.

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