Close to 130,000 people across Australia still have hepatitis C – some don’t know they have it. If you think you might be at risk for hep C, it’s very important to get tested. This is because hep C is now easy to cure since the new treatments became available in 2016. The only way to find out if you have hep C is to get tested.
Who Should Be Tested For Hepatitis C?
There are a few different blood tests that will tell you if you have hep C. You should ask your doctor for a hep C test if any of these circumstances apply to you:
- People who inject drugs or who have ever injected drugs
- People in custodial settings
- People with tattoos or body piercing
- People who received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1990
- People with coagulation disorders who received blood products or plasma-derived clotting factor treatment products before 1993
- Children born to mothers with HCV infection
- Sexual partners of a person with HCV infection (individuals at higher risk of sexual transmission include men who have sex with men and people with HCV–HIV co-infection)
- People with HIV or hepatitis B virus infection
- People with evidence of liver disease (persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase level)
- People who have had a needle-stick injury
- Migrants from high-HCV prevalence regions (Egypt, Pakistan, Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia).
If you live in NSW and think you should get tested for hep C, search our services Directory to find a hep C testing doctor near you.
When Should I Test For Hep C?
Many people don’t feel sick when they first get hep C. If you are exposed to hep C, your body will try and fight the virus for 6 months. 1 in 4 people will clear hep C in those first 6 months.
People who don’t clear their hep C will have what’s called ‘chronic hep C’. You can get tested for hep C straight after you think you have been exposed, but you will need to go back for another test after 12 weeks and possibly again at 6 months.
Hepatitis C Testing Types
Testing for hep C starts off with a hep C antibody test. This test looks for human antibodies – something that your body produces to fight the virus. If your hep C antibody test result is “positive”, then it means you have been exposed to the hep C virus at some point.
If you get a “positive” antibody result, then your sample of blood is tested again using a PCR test (PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction). This test looks for parts of the actual hep C virus. If the PCR test result is “positive” it means that you have hep C. Have a look at our Hep C Testing chart for more info on hep C tests.
Dried Blood Spot testing
Dried Blood Spot (DBS) testing uses drops of blood from the end of your finger. It doesn’t use a needle and syringe and you can do it free of charge in the privacy of your home. Your details and the results are kept private. If your test result shows you have hep C, the people who give your results can help you access hep C treatment and cure.
For more information click here for our DBS page >>
Do You Want More Information About Hep C Testing?
If you’d like more information about hep C testing, you can use any of our free resources below:
- Contact our Hepatitis Infoline for a confidential chat
- Read our hep C testing chart
- Download one of our free hepatitis C resources
Alternatively you can book an appointment with your doctor for more information about hepatitis C.
This page last updated 4 Feb 2021