Test for Hepatitis: Test methods

To evidence hepatitis A and B infections, blood tests are available. In the case of hepatitis, A, the test will search for antibodies, in the case of hepatitis B it will detect antibodies as well as virus components in the blood.

Hepatitis C infection may be evidenced either by detecting antibodies (quick test or antibody test) or virus components.

Antibody test: the earliest date to trace HCV antibodies in the blood is six weeks after first infection. However, a positive antibody test does only signify that a person made contact with the virus: it also stays in the blood after an infection that was either successfully treated and cured or healed completely by itself. In order to detect active hepatitis C infections, a direct virus identification (PCR test) should follow an antibody test.

PCR test: Should the antibody test show a positive result but the direct virus identification (PCR test) a negative one, the tested person presumedly suffered from (cured) hepatitis C infection in the past. If the PCR test is positive, the tested person is infected with active hepatitis C infection. In most cases, an active infection can be diagnosed within two weeks after transmission.