Hepatitis C Viral Load: About This Test

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Vials of blood samples with high viral load and low viral load, with close-up of hepatitis C virus

What is a hepatitis C viral load test?

A viral load test measures how much hepatitis C virus is in the blood. Viral load may be measured before, during, and after treatment.

Why is the test done?

This test is done to see if there is any active virus in the blood. It's sometimes used to see how well treatment for hepatitis C is working. And it's done after treatment to see if treatment worked.

How is the test done?

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.
  • Your doctor will compare your current test result with the results of tests you had before. The doctor will talk with you about your results and explain what they mean.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.