HCV RNA PCR test: Qualitative and quantitative results

The HCV RNA PCR test is a blood test that helps doctors diagnose hepatitis C. The test is used to measure the level of the hepatitis C virus in the bloodstream.

In this article, we look at how the test works and what the results mean.

The HCV RNA PCR test is a blood test that looks for the genetic material of the hepatitis C virus, also called its RNA, and uses a process called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Its name comes from the abbreviations for what it tests for and the process used:

  • HCV — hepatitis C virus
  • RNA — ribonucleic acid
  • PCR — polymerase chain reaction

A doctor may recommend different ways of reducing the amount of virus in the body, otherwise known as the viral load, depending on the results of the HCV RNA PCR test.

HCV RNA PCR tests are often given early on, as they can detect the virus itself rather than antibodies to it that the body creates. This means people do not have to wait until their body begins to fight the infection to be diagnosed.

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