The Best Tests for Hepatitis C

Since the hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody remains active even in an individual who has been treated and has achieved viral response as well as in someone who clears the virus spontaneously, it is not sufficient for diagnosing chronic active hepatitis.

It can be traumatic for a patient to be told he or she has HCV and then be referred to hepatology/gastroenterology, only to discover that all the worry was for naught when no evidence of the virus is detected. Before making a diagnosis of HCV, either order the test that will reflex to quantitative, or follow up with the HCV-RNA polymerase chain reaction assay: The qualitative type provides a positive or negative result, and the quantitative type gives a viral load. — June Barnhouse, CRNP, Frederick, Md. (164-4)

These are letters from practitioners around the country who want to share their clinical problems and successes, observations and pearls with their colleagues. We invite you to participate. If you have a clinical pearl, submit it here.