Infectiologists often prescribe an Anti hcv total blood test to patients. What it is? Examination is one of the methods for the diagnosis of hepatitis C. The analysis is done if you suspect this disease. Sometimes blood tests are performed by people at risk of hepatitis, to prevent infection.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a disease caused by the HCV virus. The infection is transmitted through blood and sexually. The causative agent of the disease affects liver cells, in advanced cases cirrhosis occurs. Pathology is manifested by the following symptoms:
- weakness and fatigue;
- pathological proliferation of liver tissue;
- bloating and enlargement of the spleen;
- skin and whites of the eyes become yellowish.
Such pronounced symptoms may occur 14 days after the virus enters the body. But often the incubation period is delayed to six months. Hepatitis is an insidious disease, the patient may not have any complaints for a long time. During this period, the virus manages to hit most of the liver cells.
In order to detect the disease as soon as possible, doctors give a referral to an Anti hcv total blood test. What does this study provide for diagnosis? It allows you to accurately determine the presence of the virus long before the first symptoms of hepatitis C occur. This makes it possible to prescribe therapy as soon as possible, while the disease has not yet begun to destroy the liver.
Who is assigned to the analysis?
First of all, infectious disease specialists prescribe this analysis to patients with signs of liver damage in order to determine the type of disease. This study is also shown to patients with hepatitis undergoing therapy to identify the effectiveness of treatment.
In addition, the study is prescribed to people who have an increased risk of infection:
- Persons who received a blood transfusion prior to the mandatory hepatitis C donor study;
- children born to infected mothers;
- patients on hemodialysis;
- medical professionals;
- the patient before the operation;
- patients with abnormal biochemical blood tests for bilirubin and liver enzymes;
- people who have used (or used in the past) drugs in the form of injections.
Anti hcv total blood count: what is it?
A person infected with the hepatitis C virus develops special protein compounds (immunoglobulins or antibodies) in the body. So the immune system reacts to the proteins of the pathogen (antigens). If the pathology is hidden, then antibodies begin to form 90 days after infection. In acute manifestations of hepatitis B, antibodies appear 14 days after the onset of the first signs of the disease.
Anti hcv total for antibodies to antigens of the hepatitis C virus helps detect immunoglobulins. In this case, the disease can be detected at an early stage. For analysis, blood is taken from a vein. Then, the enzyme immunoassay method determines whether the test material contains immunoglobulins against the HCV virus. In a sick person, antibodies of class M and G are present in the blood. When analyzing, their total amount is determined. Accuracy of the study – about 90%.
But antibodies to the virus are also found in the blood of patients who had had hepatitis in the past. They remain after the disease.
In patients with an acute form of the disease, there are immunoglobulins M in the blood. Antibodies G are usually detected in case of chronic hepatitis or in patients at the stage of recovery.
Other Hepatitis Research
In addition to the blood test for Anti hcv total, there are other methods for the diagnosis of hepatitis. What kind of research and how accurate they are, let’s look further.
A doctor may suspect hepatitis on the basis of an analysis of the biochemical composition of blood. In sick people, the values of bilirubin and liver enzymes (AST and ALT) are several times higher than normal. But this does not always mean hepatitis. The same data can be observed with severe intoxication. Therefore, the analysis of biochemistry alone is not enough for accurate diagnosis of the disease. If there are any abnormalities in liver indices, the doctor always prescribes additional diagnostics, including an antibody test.
Hepatitis can be detected at early stages by a polydimensional-chain reaction (PCR). Currently, this is the most accurate analysis, which is based on the determination of the RNA of the pathogen. This diagnostic method allows you to calculate the viral load, that is, the concentration of infection in the blood plasma. Such a study may be prescribed in case of a positive blood test for Anti hcv total, that is, when antibodies are detected. This helps to assess the effectiveness of the chosen method of treatment.
Sometimes PCR does not detect the virus RNA, despite the fact that specific immunoglobulins were detected in the antibody test. This happens in patients who have had hepatitis in the past.
How to pass the analysis
This study does not require complex preparation. However, some recommendations should be followed before conducting an Anti hcv total blood test. What are these rules?
- Research is always done in the morning on an empty stomach. You can only drink clean water.
- The day before donating blood, spicy, fatty, sweet, salty foods and alcohol are excluded from the diet.
- A few hours before the test, do not smoke.
- If the patient is taking any medication, you need to warn the doctor.
Norms of analysis
There are no quantitative guidelines for this study. There are only 2 options for Anti hcv total analysis indicators – positive and negative. The results of the study are usually ready in a week, as the data sometimes require calculations and additional checks. A blank with indicators must be presented to your doctor. Only a physician can correctly interpret the analysis data.
What is a positive blood test Anti hcv total? This means that antibodies to the hepatitis C virus are present in the patient’s blood. Most often this result indicates a disease, but there are exceptions to this rule.
If there is a negative result in the Anti hcv total blood test, this indicates the absence of antibodies to hepatitis C. But this does not always mean that the person is healthy.
This indicator means that at the moment the patient does not produce immunoglobulins against the proteins of the hepatitis C virus. Most often this means that the person is not sick. But to calm down early, the absence of antibodies still does not mean that there was no infection. If the patient has symptoms from the liver, the doctor will prescribe additional studies. A negative result can be observed in sick people in the following cases:
- A person is infected with hepatitis, but too little time has passed since the infection, antibodies have not yet been developed.
- There is a seronegative form of hepatitis C, in which immunoglobulins are not produced.
Therefore, if the patient is worried about the liver, the examination should be continued even with negative results of the analysis. Perhaps the doctor will prescribe a PCR diagnostic, which will accurately show the presence of the virus.
A positive blood test, Anti hcv total, in most cases, indicates hepatitis infection. Sometimes this may indicate a previous illness, then the doctor must be warned that a patient has had hepatitis in the past.
With this result, additional research is prescribed. There are 6 genotypes of the virus, and the treatment of each of them has its own specifics. Therefore, for the correct choice of the method of therapy, an analysis of the genotype of the pathogen is carried out.
There are extremely rare cases when a person is not sick, but the blood test is Anti hcv totally positive. What does this mean? This occurs when serious failures of the immune system. False positive result of the analysis can be in the following pathologies:
- autoimmune diseases;
- infectious diseases.
However, the analysis gives distorted results in exceptional cases. And usually the presence of antibodies indicates infection with the hepatitis virus. Disease treatment regimens depend on the genotype of the microorganism, but there are general principles of therapy:
- administration of antiviral drugs with the active components Sofosbuvir and Daclatasvir, as well as interferon-based drugs;
- taking hepatoprotectors, for example, Essentiale, Phosphoglyph, Carsil, Silimar;
- regular use of immunomodulators such as Zadaksin, Timogen;
- diet with restriction of salty, spicy, fatty and fried foods.
If the test result for antibodies was positive, the doctor diagnosed hepatitis C, then you should not despair. This is not a sentence. With modern methods of diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis of the disease is favorable in 95% of cases.