Hepatitis C screening is important mainly for two reasons. Firstly, it is prevalent, especially in certain geographical areas and some at risk population. Also, hepatitis C can progress silently with minimal symptoms for some time.
Acute hepatitis C is considered the first stage of hepatitis C which may lead to chronic hepatitis if not treated. The major differences between the two types of hepatitis C are:
There are 4 screening tests for hepatitis C, including:
Hepatitis C antibody test
If you’re suspected to have hepatitis C, your doctor may ask you to undergo the hepatitis C antibody test, which reveals whether your blood contains hepatitis C antibodies. Detection of such antibodies confirms that you have had hepatitis C at some stage of your life. However, the hepatitis C antibody test doesn’t show if you’re currently infected with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C qualitative test (PCR test)
Once the hepatitis C antibody test shows a positive result, your doctor will ask you to undergo the hepatitis C RNA qualitative test (PCR test), which is more specific, as it depends on the detection of the nucleic acids of hepatitis C virus in blood. Therefore, the PCR test enables your doctor to know if you currently have hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C quantitative test (viral load)
While you are on hepatitis C treatment, you’ll need to know whether the treatment is working. To ascertain this, your doctor may have to perform the hepatitis C quantitative test, which will shows the quantity of the hepatitis C virus present in your blood before and after the treatment.
Hepatitis C Genotyping
For treatment of hepatitis C, it will be useful to identify the specific genotype of hepatitis C. There are 6 distinct genotypes (genotype 1 to 6), which are useful in prescribing treatment. For example, genotype 2 and 3 are more likely to respond to treatment, compared to genotype 1.
Liver biopsy test
The liver biopsy test gauges a variety of important markers, such as:
As blood is the most contagious route of hepatitis C transmission, there are generally five categories of people who need to undergo a screening tests for hepatitis C. These categories include:
Conclusion: Hepatitis C infection is treatable with the latest medication, with cure rates in excess of 90%. Hepatitis C treatment can help avoid the development of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.
Senior Consultant Surgeon
MBBS (Singapore), FRCS (Edinburgh), MMed (Surgery), MSc (Bioinformatics),
FAMS (General Surgery)
With 20 years of surgical experience, Dr Lee is trained and skilled in using minimally invasive techniques for liver, pancreas, gallbladder and hernia procedures.
His busy practice aside, Dr Lee is actively involved in postgraduate teaching and workshops for junior surgeons, and is still actively involved in academic research at the National University of Singapore.
For a personalized assessment, contact our clinic at 6737 8878 or drop us a message here.
Your welfare is our priority and we will be in touch with you soon.