I'll try to keep it brief. I've searched everywhere for a specific "window period" for detectable antibodies to HCV. Answers seem to range anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. I've also found that you can order a PCR test which can detect the virus itself within about three weeks give or take, but it costs about $700 without insurance (which I don't have). I had a "low risk exposure" about 4 and a half weeks ago (about two lines of intranasal drugs sharing a straw). It wasn't the first time, but before that it had probably been 5-6 months as I'm not a regular user. I went to my doc, got tested for HIV and HCV and both came back negative. I was surprised to find that he got the results in about two days so I'm assuming both tests were for antibodies.
At any rate, I know if you test negative for HIV with an antibody test after 3 months it is supposed to be conclusive. Apparently this isn't so for HCV? To be honest, I didn't know anything about hepatitis before I started perusing the internet looking for HIV stuff, as in I didn't know that it could be transmitted through a cocaine straw (although after reading about it, it makes perfect sense.) I'm a bit relieved to know I couldn't have given something to anyone else as this is the only time I've snorted anything in six months, but that's about the only relief I have at this point. It's pretty frustrating to know that I may have to wait 6 MONTHS for a 97% accurate test. There isn't enough Xanax in the world to get me through that.
1. Why in the heck is hepatitis screening not recommended for everyone on in America if it really does affect 2% of the population.
2. Is what I'm reading about antibody tests really true, that they pretty much aren't accurate before 6 months, and even then there's some debate. I mean, if this is true I think testing for this disease is potentially flawed and antibody screening could be missing a ton of people.
3. Will a PCR test ALWAYS detect the virus after 3-4 weeks or is that like HIV also where it's pretty much like "Well the virus didn't show up....yet.." Meaning, is it accurate or not?
Maybe you shouldn't snort drugs if you aren't prepared to wait for test results?
Or get heath insurance so you can afford the HCV RNA test.
When a person is infected with HCV, the immune system produces
antibodies against the virus. It usually takes the immune system a few
weeks to develop enough antibodies to be detected by an antibody test.
A person who has been recently infected with HCV may be in the window
period – the time it takes between initial infection and the development of
antibodies. The average time it takes for people to develop HCV antibodies
is 2 months, but can take as long as 6 months; however, this is uncommon.
Currently, an HCV antibody requires a blood sample through a fingerstick or blood draw. OraSure Technologies’ OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test
using blood draw and finger prick has been approved and CLIA waived by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The oral swab portion of the OraQuick test is pending FDA approval. The OraQuick HCV Antibody
Test will allow for results to be given within 20 minutes.
It is important to remember that an HCV RNA (viral load) test will need to be performed to confirm active HCV infection since about 25 to 45% of people who are initially infected with HCV will naturally clear it
from the body.
Once a person is infected with hepatitis C he or she will retain HCV antibodies for life even if the body is able to eliminate the hepatitis C virus from the body naturally or through medical treatment. It is important
to note that HCV antibodies do not protect people from infection or re-infection by hepatitis C.
Yeah, I would have never snorted drugs if I had have known it is a posible route of transmission for HCV or HIV. Not that it will be something that I'll ever even think about doing again, sharing straws or not. What a stupid thing to do. I've never even thought about picking up a needle for the sheer reason that I knew that's how people get HIV,
So the questions still remain:
1. Is it necessary to get test again after the three month mark. And by being tested I mean an antibody test.
2. Is a PCR test a definitive test at 4 weeks IF I can even get a doctor to give me one because they already think im insane.
Basically every HIV site that I've been to lays it out like:
test at 3 weeks: 50 % accuracy
test at 6 weeks 99% accuracy
test at 12 weeks 100% accurate unless you have some sort of pending immune disorder,
I mean how man people take a full six months to actually show antibodies for this?s
That's all I'm really trying to find out here and it seems like everyone has a different answer. Especially regarding how big of a risk factor snorting drugs actually is.
From personal experience I can tell you I've used cocaine probably a total of 15 times (again, dumb), mostly with friends, but THEY had all done it with tons of people. I'm starting to think that getting HCV through intranasal cocaine use is more of a theoretical problem, otherwise I'm pretty darn sure I'd have it honestly.
My antibody test was negative at 4.5 weeks after this possible exposure, am I correct to assume that this is not a good indicator of whether I have HCV or not?
Thanks for the comment. Do you recommend testing again at 12 weeks since I only tested at 4 and a half? I was kinda wondering if 4 weeks was a good indicator at all or if its a uselss test before two months. I'm actually LESS concerned about the HIV potion of my fears because I know it is a lot less likely to to be transmitted this way.
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