What does PCR mean?

PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction, which is a type of laboratory test used on blood. The PCR process can be used to test for many different things, including hep C.


What is a PCR Test for Hep C?


A PCR test for hep C is used to check your blood for three things:

  • to see if you have hep C,
  • what your viral load is, and 
  • which strain (type) of hep C virus you have.


What are the Three Types of PCR Tests For Hep C?


1. PCR Viral Detection Test


The first is the PCR viral detection test. It can tell whether someone has hep C. It is often used after needlestick accidents or for testing newborn babies, born to mums with hep C.



2. PCR Viral Load Test


The second is the PCR viral load test. It measures the amount of hep C virus in your blood. This test is sometimes used before you have hep C treatment. It can tell how many weeks of treatment is best for you.



3. PCR Genotype Test


The third is the PCR genotype test. It shows what strain (type) of hep C you have. It is sometimes used before treatment to show which treatment option is best for you.


Did you know that people usually talk about hep C as if it were a single virus, but there are six different genotypes?


  • Around half of Australians with hep C have genotype 1.
  • Nearly 40% of Australians with hep C have genotype 3.
  • The remaining 10% of people have either genotype 2, 4, 5 or 6.



How is a PCR Test done?


A PCR test is a regular blood test, taken the same way as any other blood test. You will usually need to go to a pathology collector to get a PCR test. Some doctors clinics, medical centres and Aboriginal Medical Services will have blood testing, otherwise you can go to a pathology clinic.


How long does a PCR Test take?


It can take a week or two to get a PCR test back. You can check how long it might take with your doctor or nurse.


Call the Hepatitis Infoline for more information


Didn’t find the answer to your question here? Contact the Hepatitis Infoline for more information about PCR tests for hep C. 

Also, click here to see our Hepatitis C Testing Chart >>

This page last updated 14 April 2020

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