a woman uses a point of care test to prick her finger for blood

Hep C Point-of-Care Testing

Technology is ever-evolving, providing increased options for enhanced convenience and care. One type of medical technology that has helped with identifying people with hep C is point-of-care tests.

These tests are less invasive than traditional blood tests and can give significant clues to the individual’s hep C history.

What exactly are point-of-care tests?

Point-of-care tests (POCT) are not just used to identify hep C. There are various types of POCT made by various manufacturers, used to identify a wide range of conditions such as HIV, and even high cholesterol levels.1 POCT are a type of laboratory test but they are not typically done in the laboratory.

These tests can be performed in a pharmacy, your doctor’s office, and in some cases, from the comfort of your home.1 A significant advantage of POCT is that they can provide results quite rapidly.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

For example, hep C POCT can provide results in as quick as 20 minutes.2 For people with a fear of having their blood drawn, it provides the advantage in that it only requires a small blood sample from a prick of a finger.

The caveat of hep C point-of-care tests

Blood tests provide a confirmatory diagnosis of hep C. On the other hand, POCT are usually just screening tests, meaning that depending on the rest of the POCT, you may need a confirmatory blood test.2

For the hep C POCT, all they detect is whether you have antibodies to the virus - that is, whether the hep C virus has ever been in your body. However, if someone tests positive for antibodies, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they still have active hep C.

This is because 25% of people clear the hep C virus on their own<, but they will always have antibodies to the virus.2

How accurate are these tests?

Unlike blood tests, POCT are not 100% accurate. However, their accuracy is extremely high, with some ranging up to 99%.2

This means that a chance of a false negative (when the test shows that you do not have antibodies, but you actually do have them) is extremely low.

What does a negative test result mean?

A negative test means that you do not have hep C. However, if you have been recently exposed to hep C, this test will not pick that up for at least 6 months.3 Therefore, for people who feel like they were recently exposed to the virus, it is recommended to repeat the test in 6 months.3

What does a positive result mean?

If you recently did a hep C POCT and it came out positive, it means that the hep C antibody was found in your blood. This means that you were exposed to hep C at one point, but it is not able to specify if you have active hep C. You will need a blood test to confirm whether you have active hep C, and therefore eligible for treatment.

Where can I get a hep C point-of-care test?

Access to hep C POCT varies depending on your city and country. Hep C POCT should only be administered by a trained medical professional such as a pharmacist, nurse, or doctor.

Call your physician or pharmacist to ask if they perform this test. The fee tends to average $20 per test.

Have you received a hep C POCT? Share your experience in the comments.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.