Testing in your region
Hepatitis C Tests in British Columbia
Each province and territory has slight variations in the way they do testing for hepatitis C. For general information on the types of tests used in the diagnosis and monitoring of Hep C, see the Types of tests - Diagnostic tests and Types of Tests - Monitoring tests webpages. On this page you will find information on the specific tests used in British Columbia.
In British Columbia, physicians rely on several tests to diagnose hepatitis C. Testing for hepatitis C is available at family physician offices, most community and First Nations health centres, Hepatitis clinics and sexual health clinics. Depending on location, an appointment may be necessary so people may want to call ahead to ensure that Hep C testing is available at their healthcare centre.
Certain public health units, community health and social service organizations throughout the province also provide Hep C testing and counselling services to their clients. The Pacific Hepatitis C Network’s Resource Directory has a list of testing locations throughout the province. People can also click on the List of Organizations for British Colombia to access more information.
Most Hep C tests in British Columbia are sent to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), therefore the testing information below is based on the tests used at this lab.
Hep C Antibody Tests
Hep C RNA Test (Qualitative and Quantitative)
Why this test?
Used to detect Hep C antibodies in the blood
If antibodies are present, RNA testing is necessary to verify the diagnosis
Used when someone has tested positive (reactive) for Hep C antibodies
Detects genetic material (RNA) of the virus in the blood
Used to measure the viral load, or concentration of circulating virus in the blood
Assists with treatment decisions and monitoring treatment response
Testing may be recommended at 9 months post-exposure to rule out infections resulting from prolonged incubation period
6 months or longer in immunocompromised patients
Some people show antibodies as early as 10 weeks post-exposure
May be recommended at 3 weeks post-exposure
Lower Limit of Detection (IU/mL)
Results are either Reactive, Non-reactive or Indeterminate*
Results are either Detectable or Undetectable**
ADVIA Centaur Anti-HCV test
COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV test
*Reactive/Positive: Results are >1.00 and therefore Hep C antibodies are present. The individual has been exposed to the virus in his or her lifetime.
The individual may either:
a) have an active virus OR
b) have cleared the virus and does not have Hep C. Someone who has been exposed to Hep C will always have antibodies, even if they have cleared the virus. An additional RNA test is needed for accurate diagnosis.
Non-reactive/Negative: Results range from 0.00–1.00 and therefore there are no antibodies present. If the individual has tested after the 6- month window period (9 months for immunocompromised patients), they do not have Hep C
If testing has taken place before the 6 or 9-month window period, an additional antibody test is recommended once the window period has passed to verify negative results. If someone is symptomatic, has HIV/AIDS or is otherwise immunocompromised, doctors may recommend an RNA test to verify negative results.
Indeterminate: The results are not clear. Either re-testing for antibodies or RNA testing may be recommended
**Detectable: At least 15 IU/mL of virus is present in a person’s blood which indicates a positive Hep C diagnosis
Undetectable: Less than 15 IU/mL of virus is present in a person’s blood which indicates a negative Hep C diagnosis
Additional tests, including blood tests, ultrasounds and biopsies may be used to learn more about how Hep C is affecting a person’s liver. Blood tests may be used to analyze how a person is responding to treatment while an ultrasound or biopsy may be used to examine the extent of liver damage. See the Types of tests - Monitoring tests webpage for more information on these additional tests.
Genotype testing is used by physicians to determine what type of treatment may be available to people living with Hep C. In British Columbia, a blood test known as the INNO-LiPA HCV II is used to determine a person’s Hep C genotype.