Currently, hepatitis C (HCV) is not a vaccine-preventable disease. Regular testing of patients at risk of HCV provides an opportunity to educate about safe injecting practices and transmission. Risk groups for hepatitis C include:
Testing for hepatitis C involves serological assays and molecular assays.
The initial screening test to be ordered is the hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) test. A positive anti-HCV test indicates exposure to the virus but does not prove current infection. A qualitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is needed to confirm current infection. A positive PCR confirms the detection of HCV RNA and current infection.
ASHM plays an important role in the National Hepatitis C Testing Policy development. ASHM facilitates the annual review of the policy and manages the National Testing Portal, a website which contains the policy. The portal covers HIV, HBV and HCV testing. Each policy is guided by an Expert Reference Group.
The Fourth National Hepatitis C Strategy 2014-17 set the following targets to be met by 2017:
ASHM develops a comprehensive range of practical resources to support the health professionals working with hepatitis C, as well as a series of profession-based booklets for groups most in contact with BBVs and STIs. The resources focus on prevention, testing, diagnosis, management and treatment and are available in printed and/or online formats.
ASHM develops and delivers national training curricula, Face-to-face and online training, as well as webinars cover prevention, testing and diagnosis.
This document was developed for laboratories performing hepatitis C testing for diagnosis and providing comments that are useful to clinicians. The resource promotes best practice hepatitis C testing and reporting of results to improve diagnosis of hepatitis C infection and improve the understanding and interpretation of hepatitis C serology by requesting doctors. The resource is available for download here