Hepatitis C Testing
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common, chronic, blood-carried infection in the U.S. Hep C leads to liver disease if left untreated. Out of hepatitis A, B and C, hepatitis C is the most lethal.
The CDC estimates 2.7 million people are living with this chronic (over 6 months) infection. Many people have hepatitis C and don’t know it. It may take years before any signs show up.
It is most often transferred through the shared use of drugs, especially needles and paraphernalia. The risk goes up if people have used cocaine or other non-IV drugs during sex. People with HIV, and those who engage in group sex, are also at risk.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Many with the HCV virus, especially those who recently got it, don’t show any symptoms, or if they do it can easily be mistaken as something mild or less severe. It may start out with symptoms common to several other illnesses like fever, fatigue and a low appetite.
But, as symptoms grow and become more severe, you could experience:
- Yellowing eyes and skin
- Abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting
- Joint and muscle pain
- Abnormal urine
- Abnormal bowel habits
Who should get tested for Hepatitis C?
To screen for hepatitis C, we use a blood test.
The CDC recommends the following screening guidelines for hepatitis C:
- Women (including pregnant women): Women born between 1945-1965; other women if risk factors are present
- Men: Men born between 1945-1965; other men if risk factors are present
- Men Who have Sex With Men (MSM): MSM born between 1945-1965; annual HCV testing in MSM with HIV infection, other MSM if risk factors are present
- Persons with HIV: Serologic testing at initial evaluation, annual HCV testing
Test Smartly Labs can help if you need to test for hepatitis C or any other STD.