Medical News Today: What to know about false positives in hepatitis C testing

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A test for hepatitis C is important because a person may have no symptoms.

Many people with hepatitis C are not aware that they have the infection, as they may experience no symptoms. This is why testing is important for those at risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75–85% of people who have hepatitis C go on to develop a chronic, or long-lasting, form of the infection.

The tests to check for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have a high accuracy rate. However, they sometimes give false-positive results.

A false-positive result means that a test has incorrectly detected an illness or disease in someone who does not have that condition.

One test that doctors regularly use to detect the virus is called the anti-HCV test. In a 2017 study, researchers found that this test gave false-positive results to 22% of the cohort of low-risk individuals.

False positives are less common among people who have a higher risk of developing hepatitis C.

A person may have an increased risk of this infection if they were born between 1945 and 1965, if they have used injected drugs, or if they received a blood transfusion before 1992, for example.

Because false positives are possible, doctors confirm all positive HCV test results with follow-up testing.

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