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HCV RNA/PCR
Feb 21, 2010

Dr. McGovern, I have had a possible HepC contact about 2 weeks ago. I plan on getting a HCV RNA PCR, but was wondering when I should do it. I read the RNA starts developing after 1-3 weeks. Is it safe t o say then, If I test at the 3 week mark, that should i have been infected, the PCR will pick it up? thanks in advance of your reply!

Response from Dr. McGovern

Yes, HCV RNA can be detected in blood as soon as 2 to 3 weeks after exposure. That is well known... However, it is not clear to me how much later on (in terms of weeks) HCV RNA can appear related to an exposure....The reason we don't know this well is that most patients with acute infection are without symptoms and do not seek medical attention.

Full diagnostic testing for exposures of high risk also include HCV antibody testing at 3 and 6 months to look for seroconversion. This is also done because it is expensive to do serial HCV RNA testing over time....Most people who do become infected are seropositive for HCV antibodies by around 3 months...



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