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Am I at risk for HCV? How soon can I get 100% conclusive results?

Hi everyone,

On July 7th 2017, I believe a girl who I was seeing at the time used my toothbrush without my permission. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but now realize that that was a very bad idea. I don't think she has Hep C, but I don't know 100%.

My anxiety is bad, and I can't wait 6 months to get definitive results from the antibody test. The PCR test says it takes 3 weeks, but no where on the internet does it say it is a definitive stand alone test. I imagine I would need to take both the antibody test and the PCR test, but at how many weeks after exposure can I conclusively say I am negative so I can move on with my life and stop worrying about this. Is it possible to be conclusively negative before 6 months? I am prepared to fork over the money for the PCR test, but want to be sure I wait long enough to get conclusive results? The CDC website just says the PCR test "can" detect the virus at 3 weeks. It doesn't say anything about being conclusive.

Thank you very much for your help.
1 Responses
683231 tn?1467323017
The normal process is to have the antibody test first then if it is positive actual infection is confirmed using the HCV RNA by PCR test. So the PCR test is actually the confirmatory test the antibody is a screening test for possible exposure.

From the VA

"If a person exposed to hepatitis C becomes infected, virus particles (called HCV RNA) can be detected within 1-2 weeks. Liver function tests also will tend to rise during this timeframe. Hepatitis C antibodies appear after RNA is detectable and can take 3-12 weeks to appear."

So antibody tests can be tested for in much less than 6 months. The longer wait is to ensure even those with compromised immune systems like for those infected with HIV will have had sufficient time to develop antibodies. But the HCV RNA test can be used as soon as 1 to 2 weeks and it is the definitive test.

That being said the HCV RNA by PCR test I understand costs about $400 if self pay vs about $40 for the antibody test which is why the antibody test is done as a screening before spending ten times more for the HCV RNA test.

While there can be a slight risk from sharing of toothbrushes it is only a slight risk. And rather than spending several hundred dollars for testing wouldn't it be simpler to simply ask your friend?

Just to add those of us when we had hep c would never consider using someone else's toothbrush for that very reason to not risk exposing our friends and family to the virus.
5 Comments
Thank you very much for your very detailed response.

So is a negative antibody test at 12 weeks conclusive? Also what about 6 weeks or 8 weeks?

Finally, would a negative antibody and HCV RNA at 6 weeks be conclusive?

I really want to put this whole thing behind me, but find the point in time that is 100% conclusive to be confusing.

The girl says that she does not have Hep C, which I most likely believe, but it would give me more peace of mind to have conclusive tests of my own.

Thanks again.
For 100% assurance for the hep c antibody test the waitis 6 months as it cantake that long for antibodies to develop inthose with  compromised immune systems. The longer you wait to do the antibody test the better you can trust the results. What you are doing by waiting is allowing enough antibodies to be created by your body while it tries to fight hep c if it is present. This wait allows  sufficient anti-bodies so that it will be above the tests LLOQ  lower level of quantification basically the minimum number of antibodies present to give a detected result.

Or you can have the HCV RNA by PCR test done as soon as 1 to 2 weeks after your concerning event at 10 times the cost of the antibody test.

Hep c is not a medical emergency. It takes decades if ever for hep c to cause liver damage.

My recommendation is save your money and wait 6 months  to have the antibody test. Your risk is low and there is no reason to have the test any sooner for $400.

Or save yourself time, worry, and money and ask your friend. If you are close enough to share toothbrushes surely I would think you can ask this question of them.
Don't know why that double posted but anyway I missed that the girl said she does not have hep c. In that case I would just forget about it or if you feel you must test and want to be confident of the accuracy if your results just get the antibody test at 6 months.

There is no real reason or need to test sooner than that. Really I doubt you even need to test at all but that is up to you.
I totally agree with every thing Flyinlynn said. To reiterate....the PCR test is conclusive at 3 weeks. Unfortunately it is expensive. Wishing you the best.
Hi, thank you all for your very informative response. I realize I have a very low-risk, and your responses are reassuring. Thanks again!
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