When a person is exposed to viruses and bacteria, the immune system responds by trying to fight off infection by producing proteins called antibodies to the foreign substance. Approved in 2011 by the FDA, the OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test is used to determine the presence or absence of antibodies for HCV (the Hepatitis C virus) in the patient’s blood. If a patient has been exposed to the virus, or has been previously exposed, the test will show that anti-HCV antibodies are present.
- How does the test work?
- A simple blood sample, using a fingerprick or collected from a vein, is taken from the patient and added to a vial full of test chemicals. A test strip coated in proteins from HCV (antigens for the Hepatitis C virus) is then added to the vial. If anti-HCV antibodies are present, a colored line will form on the test strip as the antibodies react to the chemicals, confirming exposure. False positives do occasionally occur, so it is important to confirm the presence of anti-HCV antibodies with a supplemental test.
- When is the test offered?
- This is a simple blood test to evaluate exposure to the HCV. The test is recommended for people who are at risk, and for people who may be exhibiting symptoms or signs of a HCV infection.
- What does the test accomplish?
- The OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test only determines exposure to the virus. Combined with other tests and clinical information from the patient, it may be used to help make a diagnosis in persons with other symptoms, signs or who are at a high risk of a HCV infection.
- How should the test not be used?
- The test is not effective to determine if a person is actively infected with the Hepatitis C virus- only that the person at some point was exposed to the virus. If the test comes back positive, additional testing is needed in order to determine infection with HCV.