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Testing window for Hep C

Hi Experts. I had a sexual exposure where blood was involved. My question is simple. When is the right time (window period) to test for Hep C from the day of exposure considering there are two tests available one which detects the antibody and the other PCR one which detects the Virus material. Please help me with your expertise thank you.
1 Responses
683231 tn?1467323017
The standard testing protocol is wait 12 weeks for the antibody test then of positive have the HCV RNA by PCR test for the actual virus.

The reasoning is the antibody test comes back faster and only costs maybe $40 while the HCV RNA costs I’ve heard around $400 and takes longer to come back.

Also, if you should test positive they will want to wait 6 months before treating you as about 25% of people can beat the virus on their own without treatment so they will want to wait to see if you are one of those people before treating.

I assume you had a situation involving known hep c infected blood that entered your blood stream.
5 Comments
Hi Thanks so much. I dont know the persons status yet but I am being careful by testing. Also, some websites say the window period is 9 weeks. Do you think including a Antibody test at 9 weeks can be a good sign as my other tests are scheduled after 9 weeks. Excuse me for asking another question.
I’ve never seen 9 weeks for the hep c antibody test.

I have seen if you are infected with HIV or are otherwise immune compromised it could take up to6 months for enough hep c antibodies to develop to detectable levels
Found this on a VA website:

“False-Negative HCV Ab

A false-negative HCV Ab result may occur if the test is performed during the window period after acute HCV infection but before seroconversion (when the HCV Ab converts from negative to positive). The average time from infection until seroconversion is 8 weeks and is referred to as the "serologic window." If acute infection is suspected to have taken place within the past 8 weeks, it would be appropriate to order the HCV RNA test. If the HCV Ab test result is negative within the first 8 weeks after infection, it would be appropriate to retest the antibody after 8 weeks to check for seroconversion.
A false-negative HCV Ab result may also occur in immunocompromised individuals such as those infected with HIV, recipients of organ transplants, and patients receiving chronic hemodialysis. If the HCV Ab result is negative in immunocompromised patients, but there is strong suspicion of HCV infection, it would be appropriate to order the HCV RNA test.”

So by testing sooner you would likely need to retest if the result on the hep c antibody test is negative.

Yes you can have enough antibodies to develop within as few as 3 weeks for a positive result but to be confident of a negative hep c antibody test you need to wait.
Thank you for your expert comments. I shall wait till the 12 weeks mark and do a test.
Ok but I’m not an expert I a patient who had hep c for 37 years before I was cured with Harvoni

I do not work in the medical field. All I know is my own experiences, what I have learned by reading and what I can learn from reliable sources on google.
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