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Hepatitis C (IgG)

Screening for antibodies (IgG) against the virus is the front-line technique for detecting a past or current hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. For most individuals, the test remains positive throughout their life even after the disease has been cured, but a positive result does not mean the person is protected against a new infection. To diagnose active hepatitis C in an individual with a positive IgG result, an HCV RNA test must be completed. The presence of viral RNA indicates an active infection that requires treatment.

A negative result indicates either no infection or a test performed too soon after exposure to be accurate. For accurate HCV antibody testing, you must typically wait 6 to 12 weeks after infection (longer in immunosuppressed individuals). If the clinical suspicion remains high, the test has to be repeated at a later date. Slightly positive or indeterminate results must be confirmed by the Laboratoire de Santé publique du Québec (LSPQ).

Term of the Week

Hot zone

A hot zone is a section of a facility (sometimes an entire facility or even a city district) where there is a high risk of contamination by patients with an infectious disease. All individuals entering a hot zone must respect appropriate protective measures. By analogy, “cold zone” and “warm zone” are used to refer to areas where there is no infected individual or only individuals suspected of having an infection.