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What does this mean? HCV testing
Nov 24, 2012

My guy friend had a Hepatitis C test and it came back as follows: Hepatitis C Antibody Reactive Hepatitis C RNA : NON DETECTABLE

Response from Dr. Taylor

The reactive hepatitis C antibody test signifies that your friend has been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. If the hepatitis C antibody is reactive, the correct next step is to check for the virus itself with the HCV RNA by PCR, so I am glad your friend had this test.

Your friend's result for the virus itself, HCV RNA, is negative. This usually means that a person was exposed to hepatitis C at some point but that the body cleared the virus away within the first weeks of infection, on its own. Thus there is no ongoing hepatitis C infection, just a marker in the blood of past exposure. The reactive antibody typically persists in the blood for a lifetime.

If someone is cured of hepatitis C with medications, the results will look the same -- a reactive antibody and non-detectable HCV RNA.

If your friend could have been exposed to hepatitis C within the last months, then it is important for him to have the hepatitis C RNA repeated in a few weeks-months to confirm that he is truly virus-negative. With a new hepatitis C infection, sometimes called an acute infection, the HCV RNA level can fluctuate, meaning rise to very high levels and fall and to non-detectable levels.

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