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Hep C -?
Oct 9, 2006

12 months ago I was attacked by a person who stabbed me with a needle. 6 weeks following the incident I started to get headaches & a slight flu-like illness. As a precaution I got myself tested for HIV,HBV,HCV. The HIV & HBV tests were negative but the HCV showed a low level positive. A test was repeated 2 weeks later with the same result. Since then I have had 3 HCV-RNA tests (all negative), 3 LFT's (all normal) & a ultrasound of my liver again normal. All the tests were spread over a 6 month period. This was obviously a great relief but to this day I still get a level of discomfort in the liver area (sometimes tender to touch). This is most evident when sitting down & becomes more prominent the day after I have consumed alcohol. I drink once a week. I have spoken to 2 different specialists who both assure me I have cleared the virus however I have read of incidencies of occult infections. Is it possible my viral levels are below the level of detection particularly as I would still be in a relatively early stage of infection. Apart from the liver pain I have no other obvious symptoms. Regards Darren

Response from Dr. McGovern

I am not sure what you mean as a "low level positive test".

"Equivocal" HCV antibody tests done by ELISA testing can be retested by a more sensitive test called RIBA - recombinant immunoblot assay. This test is rarely performed these days since most positive HCV antibody tests are confirmed as positive by testing for the presence of virus. However, if virus is not confirmed to be present, but the patient was at "high risk" of acquiring HCV (eg intravenous drug use), we stop there and say that the patient cleared their infection.

However, if your only risk for HCV was this incident, I would say that you are at very "low risk" and are probably HCV seronegative. If you have nagging concerns, you can get a RIBA, which is very sensitive and very specific. If you have never been exposed to HCV, this test result will be a unequivocal "negative" and you can stop worrying about this.



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