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Hepatitis C
Oct 20, 2012

I recently had a false positive hepatitis c test. I had the basic screening which showed positive but my genotype and rna says I don't have hepatitis c. I did have an high AFP during pregnancy, and jaundice during delivery, I also have thallesemia beta minor carrier, and I have chronic joint pain and inflammation and got diagnosed with artheritis but all my arhteritis tests came back negative. I do take immunothearpy shots for allergies. All liver function tests are negative, just have a fatty liver on ultrasound. I had the tests repeated again and it shows the genotype and rna as negative for hep c. Is there something in my medical history that causes this false postive reading?

Response from Dr. Taylor

There are several reasons for a positive HCV antibody test in the absence of HCV RNA, the virus itself.

You may have been exposed to hepatitis C, and spontaneously cleared the infection without medications, without feeling anything. In this case the hepatitis C antibody always remains positive, as a footprint indicating past exposure, but you do not have chronic hepatitis C infection.

If you are from a part of the world where hepatitis C infection is rare, there is a higher chance of a false positive antibody result. There may be false positive results due to technical errors in checking the hepatitis C antibody. Sometime the hepatitis C antibody may cross-react with antibodies for other diseases, such as autoimmune diseases (possibly what you have), giving a false positive result. It may be helpful to discuss with your doctor whether you have been evaluated for autoimmune diseases. It is good to hear that you have been checked for the hepatitis C virus more than once. It does not sound as though you have chronic hepatitis C.

Regarding the fatty liver by ultrasound, it may be helpful to discuss with your doctor avoiding factors that may make this worse, including consuming alcohol, becoming overweight, taking certain medications, or developing high cholesterol.

AFP may be elevated in pregnancy because it is made by the placenta, an organ that connects a woman who is pregnant to a developing fetus. Elevated AFP may come from organs and diseases not involving the liver.

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