Healthcare professionals administer blood tests to check for hepatitis C, explains WebMD. The first blood test to screen for hepatitis C involves drawing blood to check for the presence of hepatitis C antibodies, notes Heathline. If the results of this test indicate that the blood is antibody reactive to the hepatitis C virus, health professionals recommend another blood test to check for the hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid.
Although the first hepatitis C test may indicate a reaction to the virus antibodies, this does not always indicate the presence of the virus, states Healthline. However, if the results of the hepatitis C ribonucleic acid test come back positive, this indicates that the virus is active in the body.
Most laboratories that perform routine lab work offer hepatitis C testing, according to Healthline. While many insurance plans cover hepatitis C testing, other community centers also offer free or low-cost testing. Patients do not need to fast or follow any special instructions before testing.
Healthcare professionals recommend hepatitis C tests for some patients more than others. Patients who should be tested for hepatitis C include those who are currently injecting drugs, those who have injected drugs in the past, those with HIV, and those who received a blood transfusion, blood components or an organ transplant before 1992, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, patients with a history of tattooing and body piercing, sexually transmitted diseases and long-term sexual partners infected with the hepatitis C virus should also be routinely tested.