Testing is the only way to find out if you have hepatitis C
There are close to 250,000 people living with hepatitis C in Canada. Many people who have hepatitis C don’t know it.
Most people do not show any signs or symptoms until many years after getting hepatitis C.
- If and when people do have symptoms, they are very general and may feel like other illnesses.
- As the liver becomes more damaged, symptoms may include feeling tired all the time, body aches, dry and itchy skin, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and confusion (called “brain fog”) or a yellowing of the skin and eyes (called jaundice).
The only way to really know is to get tested.
- If you think someone else’s blood could have made its way into your body – even one time – or you feel unwell, visit your doctor or a health centre to talk about getting tested.
It takes two tests to know if you have hepatitis C.
Unlike some other viruses, there are two separate blood tests for hepatitis C:
The first test: Hepatitis C antibody testing is used to see if a person has ever come in contact with hepatitis C. When hepatitis C first enters the bloodstream, the immune system in the body produces antibodies against the virus. The hepatitis C antibody test looks for hepatitis C antibodies in the blood. A negative test result means that a person has never come in contact with hepatitis C.
A positive test result means that a person came in contact with hepatitis C at some point. But, antibodies stay in the body even when someone clears the virus. Follow-up testing is important: The second test shows if the virus is still in the body.
The second test: Virus testing (called a PCR test, a viral load test or an RNA test) checks for active hepatitis C infection. A negative virus test result means that a person does not have hepatitis C. A positive test result means that a person does have hepatitis C.
For more information, or to arrange to get tested for Hepatitis C, please contact us.
This information was provided by CATIE (Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange).
For more information, contact CATIE at 1.800.263.1638 or firstname.lastname@example.org.