Q: What is hepatitis C?
A: Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is found in an infected person's blood. Hepatitis C is a serious disease. Many people may carry the virus for the rest of their lives. Infected people can develop liver damage, but do not necessarily feel sick. Even those who develop a persistent infection may not show symptoms until there is severe liver damage. In some cases, hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver failure and liver cancer over a period of 20 to 30 years.
Q: How can you tell if someone is infected with Hepatitis C?
A: Only with a blood test. A person can be Hepatitis C -infected or exposed for many years while looking and feeling healthy, with no signs at all of being sick. A "positive" test result means antibodies to the hepatitis C virus were found in your test sample and that you should consider yourself to have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. If you receive this test result, we recommend you consult a physician of your choice for medical advice and follow-up for further testing.
Q: Who is most likely to become infected with the hepatitis C virus?
A: Anyone can be infected with the hepatitis C virus. However, people most likely to be infected with the hepatitis C virus include individuals who: (1.) had a blood transfusion and or received an organ transplant such as kidney, lung, or heart, before effective screening began in July 1992; (2.) have been or are on long term kidney dialysis (hemodialysis); (3.) received treatment with a clotting factor concentrate manufactured before 1987; (4.) have ever injected illegal drugs, even once; (5.) have had sexual contact with multiple individuals over the course of their lifetime; (6) have been healthcare workers with exposure to blood from a hepatitis C infected person, especially through accidental needlesticks, or (7) have ever had a sexually transmitted disease (STD)..
Q: Are there other types of viral hepatitis?
A: Yes, the other most common types are hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A is usually transmitted by personal contact with someone who is infected and by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Most people recover from hepatitis A within 6 months without serious health problems. Hepatitis B is transmitted through infected blood and other bodily fluids. Most people (90%) are able to recover from hepatitis B infection; however, those individuals who become chronically infected may develop cirrhosis and liver cancer, if left untreated. Both hepatitis A and hepatitis B are preventable by vaccines.
Q: What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
A: The most common symptom of hepatitis C is fatigue; however, most infected people have no recognizable signs or symptoms for a long time. Some people do experience flu-like symptoms, such as loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fever, weakness, tiredness and mild abdominal pain. Less common symptoms are dark urine and jaundice of the skin and eyes. The only way to know if you are infected is through blood tests.
Q: Is hepatitis C contagious?
A: Yes. Usually the hepatitis C virus is spread from one person to another by direct exposure to infected blood or blood products, and contaminated needles or other sharp objects. Occasionally, the hepatitis C virus may be spread by: 1.) an infected mother to her newborn; 2.) infected household members; or 3.) sexual contact. Sexual transmission typically occurs among people with multiple sexual partners or a history of sexually transmitted disease. HCV transmission is rare among long-term sexual partners who do not have other sexual contacts.
A "positive" test result means antibodies to the hepatitis C virus were found in your test sample and that you have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. If you receive this test result, we recommend you consult a physician of your choice for medical advice and follow-up for further testing. Sometimes exposure does not mean infected and can clear your system..
If you are infected, we recommend taking extra steps to avoid blood to blood contact with others to prevent any possibility of infecting other people close to you. Do not share items that may be contaminated with blood such as razors and toothbrushes. Consider using condoms, because sexual transmission, although rare, is possible.
Q: How can I be exposed to Hepatitis C?
A: Unprotected sex with someone who is infected or sharing a needle or syringe with someone who is infected.
Q: What is unprotected sex?
A: Sex without a latex condom.
Q: What about doing drugs?
A: Injecting drugs using a needle that has been used by someone else is risky because it can contain infected blood from that person. Any drug use, including alcohol, affects judgment and can contribute to exposure to Hepatitis C infection.
Q: What are the ways to prevent or reduce exposure to Hepatitis C infection?
A: The best way to reduce risk is always using a latex condom correctly for all sexual intercourse. Quitting is the best prevention if you are using injectable drugs. But if that isn't an option, then people should always use a sterile needle to inject drugs and never use somebody else's equipment.
Q: What is the Hepatitis C test?
A: The human body makes antibodies to fight off all kinds of infections. Your body creates antibodies to the hepatitis C virus if you are infected with it. This service tests your blood for these antibodies.
Q: Is this test accurate?
A: Yes. In a multicenter clinical study this test service, using blood from a finger stick obtained by non-medically trained participants, was proven to be greater than 99% accurate compared to a blood sample drawn by a medical professional and tested using current test methods. In this clinical trial approximately 4% of study participants were unable to collect enough sample to begin testing, and an additional 3% were unable to collect enough sample to receive a conclusive result. To assure your sample is adequate for testing, please follow all the instructions.
Your sample will be tested with the same tests used by your doctor's office. Your sample is tested with an Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay (ELISA). In some cases, a more specific test called Recombinant Immunoblot Assay (RIBA) may also be used to determine your final result.
It can take up to six months for your blood to develop antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C CheckSM Test Service may not detect more recent infections. We recommend you take the test six months or more AFTER you have been exposed to hepatitis C virus.
Q: What does my test result mean?
A: There are 4 possible test results: "negative", "positive", "indeterminate", or "result not available."
|||A "negative" test result means antibodies to the hepatitis C virus were not found in your test sample and it is extremely unlikely that you have been infected with the hepatitis C virus. If you receive this test result, it is important to remember this service may yield a negative result if you were infected during the six months before this testing, because antibodies to the hepatitis C virus do not develop immediately after infection occurs. You should be evaluated by a physician of your choice if you become ill or if you remain concerned that you could be infected with the hepatitis C virus..|
|||A "positive" test result means antibodies to the hepatitis C virus were found in your test sample and that you should consider that you have been exposed with the hepatitis C virus. If you receive this test result, we recommend you consult a physician of your choice for medical advice and follow-up for further testing. Sometimes the Hep C exposure clears itself after a few months that is why further testing is needed.. For your convenience, we can provide referrals to physicians in your area who can treat hepatitis C.|
|||An "indeterminate" result means that initial testing of your blood detected antibodies but further testing did not conclusively show that these were antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. This could mean that your body was developing antibodies to the hepatitis C virus at the time the sample was obtained, and you could be infected. Sometimes, other conditions can make the test "indeterminate". If you receive this test result, we recommend you consult a physician of your choice and/or be re-tested.|
|||A "result not available" result means that the laboratory was unable to provide a result from your sample. This happens when your test card doesn't have enough blood on it or is wet, soiled, contaminated, or shipped incorrectly.|
When you call in for your test results and talk with a healthcare counselor, you will be advised of your options for referral or re-testing.
Q: What exactly does the Hepatitis C test do?
A: Any Hepatitis C test checks your blood specimen for Hepatitis C antibodies. The body creates antibodies to Hepatitis C when an individual becomes infected by the virus. By testing blood for these antibodies, a laboratory can tell if Hepatitis C is present.
Q: How soon do these antibodies show up?
A: In most infected people, the antibodies will show up in the blood within six weeks to 3 months. But in some people, it might take up to six months. This is important because the test cannot detect recent infections. For example, if you became infected in January, you may not test positive until June.
Q: So you can test negative and still be infected?
A: Yes, because it takes some time for your body to produce Hepatitis C antibodies, there is a period of time when recent infections may not be detected.
Q: So what does a negative result mean?
A: It means that Hepatitis C antibodies were not found by a laboratory in a particular blood sample.
Q: What does a positive result mean?
A: It means that Hepatitis C antibodies were found by the laboratory in a particular blood sample and the individual providing that sample is infected. That individual is capable of passing the virus to someone else.
Q: What does an indeterminate result mean?
A: It means a laboratory could not confirm the presence of Hepatitis C antibodies in a particular blood sample. It could mean that an individual may be in the process of converting from being negative to being positive. It could also be due to other medical factors. In either case, it is recommended that the individual be re-tested.
Q: What does an insufficient result mean?
A: An insufficient result refers specifically to the Home Access® Hepatitis C Check Test system. It means that the Hepatitis C test could not be performed on the blood sample that was sent to the laboratory. This happens most often because there was not enough blood to test. If you use the Home Access® Hepatitis C Check Test system, make sure you follow all printed instructions regarding the collection of a blood sample.
Q: How accurate is the Hepatitis C at-home test?
A: Home Access® Hepatitis C Check Tests are designed to provide you with a scientific test result that you can trust. Home Access Hepatitis C Check Tests use the same tests run by doctors and hospitals and are clinically proven to be greater than 99% accurate.
Q. What does FDA approved mean?
A: Our entire service has been scientifically reviewed for safety and effectiveness by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA granted Home Access Health nationwide clearance to market its service on April 28, 1999. The Home Access at-home telemedicine Hepatitis C counseling and testing service is the ONLY such service available in the United States approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Q: Why get tested for Hepatitis C?
A: Generally speaking, there are a number of reasons that prompt a person to take a Hepatitis C test. Getting tested for Hepatitis C can help foster peace of mind, regardless of your test result. And, if you are concerned about testing positive for Hepatits C, it is important to recognize that today more than ever before, there is new medical treatment that is helping thousands of people infected with Hepatitis C lead healthier, active lives.
Q: Is the Home Access® test confidential?
A: Yes. We guarantee that all Home Access test results are completely confidential. Included in your test kit is a personal 14-digit code number that is not accessible to anyone else. This is how you register to receive your test result. You are the only person who can share your code number or result with anyone else.
Q: How does it work?
A: Its easy. Just call in to register your Home Access PIN Number. Then collect a blood spot sample by following the instructions included in your kit. (If you have questions, you can call our toll-free number for assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.) Ship your sample back to our laboratory for processing and then call in to find out your test result. Depending upon the test you purchase, you will be able to find out your test result in three business days or ten business days.
Q: When can I get my results?
A: Hepatitis C Check results are available ten business days after the sample is mailed to our laboratory.
Q: How are results given?
A: Once your test is processed, you can call in to find out your test result 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You retrieve your results by calling our toll-free number included in your test kit. If you are transferred to a counselor, there is no reason to panic, this does not automatically mean that you have tested positive.
Q: Can I get a copy of my results in writing?
A: Yes! You can receive your results by calling our 1-800 phone number, after you have received your results via phone, you can request hard copy be eMailed, faxed or sent by US mail.
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