Tests and diagnosisBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Screening for hepatitis C
Testing for hepatitis C infection in people who have a high risk of coming in contact with the virus may help doctors begin treatment or recommend lifestyle changes that may slow liver damage. This is recommended because hepatitis C infection often begins damaging the liver before it causes signs and symptoms.
People who may want to talk to their doctors about screening for hepatitis C infection include:
- Anyone who has ever injected illicit drugs
- Anyone with unexplained, unusual liver function tests
- Babies born to mothers with hepatitis C
- Health care and emergency workers who have been exposed to blood or accidental needle sticks
- People with hemophilia who were treated with clotting factors before 1987
- People who have ever undergone long-term hemodialysis treatments
- People who received blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992
- Sexual partners of anyone diagnosed with hepatitis C infection
Blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C
Blood tests may help to:
- Determine whether you have the hepatitis C virus
- Measure the quantity of the hepatitis C virus in your blood (viral load)
- Evaluate the genetic makeup of the virus (genotyping), which helps determine your treatment options
Testing samples of liver tissue to determine severity of liver damage
Your doctor may also recommend a procedure to remove a small sample of liver tissue for laboratory testing. A liver biopsy can help determine the severity of the disease and guide treatment decisions. During a liver biopsy, your doctor inserts a thin needle through your skin and into your liver to remove the tissue sample.
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