Testing in your region
Hep C Tests in Saskatchewan
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 Types of Tests webpage. On this page you will find information on the specific tests used in Saskatchewan.
In Saskatchewan, physicians rely on several tests to diagnose hepatitis C. Testing is available at family physician offices, most community health centres 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 health care centre.
Certain public health units and community health and social service organizations throughout the province also provide Hep C testing services to their clients. This information is available by clicking on the List of Organizations for Saskatchewan.
Most Hep C tests in the province are sent to the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory in Regina, therefore the information below is based on the tests used at this lab.
Hep C Antibody Tests
Hep C PCR Test (Qualitative and Quantitative)
Why this test?
Used to detect Hep C antibodies in the blood
If antibodies are present, PCR testing is necessary to confirm a positive 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
Some people show antibodies as early as 10 weeks post-exposure
May be recommended at 6-8 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 HCV test
CHIRON RIBA HCV test 3.0
COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV test
*Reactive/Positive: Results show that antibodies are present. The individual has been exposed to Hep C in his or her lifetime.
The individual may either:
a) have an active virus OR
b) have cleared the virus and do 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 PCR test is needed for accurate diagnosis.
Non-reactive/Negative: No HCV antibodies are present. If the individual has tested after the window period, they do not have Hep C.
If testing has taken place before the 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 a PCR test to verify negative results.
Indeterminate: The results are not clear. Either re-testing for antibodies or PCR testing may be recommended
**Detectable: At least 20 IU/mL of virus is present in a person’s blood, which indicates a positive Hep C diagnosis
Undetectable: Less than 20 IU/mL of virus is present in a person’s blood, which indicates a negative Hep C diagnosis
Viral load reveals the concentration or amount of Hep C in the blood and is measured in IU/mL (international units/mL)
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 Types of 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 Saskatchewan, the Laboratory uses an in-house PSEA (primer specific extension analysis) HCV test to identify a person’s genotype upon physician request.