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Author Topic: Positive for antibodies  (Read 5836 times)

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Offline RI_girl

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 1
Positive for antibodies
« on: April 22, 2017, 04:29:18 pm »
I tested positive for Hep C antibodies, then the nurse practitioner had me take a blood test for viral load. The viral load came back undetected. She told me that this means I had Hep C in the past, but it cleared by itself. But she said I still have to get the viral load tested periodically to make sure it is still undetected. I'm confused, does this mean that the Hep C can come back at any time? I don't really trust this nurse because I feel she judges me because I'm a recovering addict and that's probably how I got Hep C. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Offline Mugwump

  • Member
  • Posts: 778
  • My number of posts means nothing, piscor ergo sum!
Re: Positive for antibodies
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2017, 06:31:43 pm »
All a confirmed antibody test tells you is that you have been exposed to the virus in the past. It is very common to be positive for antibodies and have no viral infection. For the sake of certainty and complete peace of mind that the exposure was not recent I would ask for another viral load test in the future but wait at least 3-4 months. Your viral load test is undetected and this is all that matters really.

The current antibody tests are only slightly more reliable than the old tests so there is also a possibility that your antibody test was a false positive. 

So if you retest for antibodies and it is again positive then it means there is certainty that you have been exposed to HCV in the past.

It was once standard practice to test twice for antibodies before going on to test for viral load. However this practice seems to have changed in the US. I guess it all depends upon your providers. The antibody test is one tenth of the cost of a viral load test, so retesting for antibodies if there is no known history of expose makes some sense.

Far too many individuals are miss informed about this and think that a positive antibody test means that you have HCV or you will in future develop HCV and this in not at all the case.

Caution shameless self promotion below :-)

Offline gnatcatcher

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,372
Re: Positive for antibodies
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2017, 08:00:25 pm »
RI_girl, even after my successful treatment, my gastroenterologist wants me to have an annual viral load test until three years have passed since the end of my treatment. I wasn't a drug user and never got a tattoo, body piercing, or acupuncture (transfusions were my only known risk factor), so it may be that your nurse has every cured Hep C patient take several more viral loads tests.

You ask whether the Hep C can come back at any time. My understanding is that there is a very slight chance of some Hep C hiding out in an organ and therefore not detected by a blood test until it multiplies enough to get into the blood stream.

Welcome to the forums and congratulations on clearing HCV on your own and attaining recovering addict status. Wishing you permanent freedom from HCV and addiction,

9/29/71 transfusions
HCV genotype 1a
7/09/15-9/30/15 Harvoni

Before treatment:
Viral Load 9,490,582
FibroScan 19.5 kPa [F4]
ALT 262
AST 217
ALP 183

Most recent:
FibroScan 7.6 kPa [F1-2]
ALT 15
AST 20
ALP 85

Offline Lynn K

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 4,543
  • Get tested, get treated, get cured, fight Hep c!
Re: Positive for antibodies
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2017, 01:43:26 am »
Hi RI girl and welcome

Because you probably were exposed to hep c in the past you will likely have hep c antibodies for the rest of your life.

If you participate in an activity that is a risk for hep c the only way to know if you are infected would be to have a hep c test for the virus.

There is a small possibility that you could test positive for antibodies but do not have enough virus in your blood to test positive on a viral load test if you were recently infected. That would be a good reason to retest in 6 months to a year to be in the safe side that you are not currently infected. But if your risk was from more than a year ago I would think you are fine. Maybe just test in a year for additional peace of mind.

But if you don't have a viral load after say 6 months you are definitely not infected right now.  So as long as you don't have any future risk factors I wouldn't think you should need any future testing beyond that.

Best to you

« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 01:45:31 am by Lynn K »
Genotype 1a
1978 contracted, 1990 Dx
1995 Intron A failed
2001 Interferon Riba null response
2003 Pegintron Riba trial med null response
2008 F4 Cirrhosis Bx
2014 12 week Sov/Oly relapse
10/14 fibroscan 27 PLT 96
2014 24 weeks Harvoni 15 weeks Riba
5/4/15 EOT not detected, ALT 21, AST 20
4 week post not detected, ALT 26, AST 28
12 week post NOT DETECTED (07/27/15)
ALT 29, AST 27 PLT 92
24 week post NOT DETECTED! (10/19/15)
44 weeks (3/11/16)  fibroscan 33, PLT 111, HCV NOT DETECTED!


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