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Exposure to HCV, negative antibody and HCV RNA...should get tested again?
Oct 17, 2010

Hello. Two months ago I was exposed to hepatitis c through a needle stick. Soon after my exposure (2 weeks) I had a hep c antibody test. That came back negative and I was relieved. However, I have read that there is a "window period" in hepatitis c that can cause a pretty long delay in between time of exposure and receiving a positive antibody test.

I was afraid, so I called my doctor and he sent me for another test that he said will show up positive 1-2 weeks after infection if you do have the virus. So, 4 weeks after my exposure I had the test. It was called an HCV RNA test (maybe called PCR???) Hopefully you know what I'm referring to. I have just received the results to that and it was also negative.

Do these seem like conclusive results to you? The doctor told me that between these two tests, I can rest assured that I don't have hepatitis c. But in your personal opinion, do I need to be retested? And if so, which test should I get?

Thank you so much for your time

Response from Dr. McGovern

Since you had a needlestick exposure and know exactly the date of your exposure...yes I think you can feel comfortable knowing that if there is no virus by now in your blood, you are not infected. If you would like to read more look at the CDC site on the internet. The CDC website states that virus is usually detected by 2 to 3 weeks after exposure.



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