There are three types of HCV PCR tests:
- The HCV PCR viral detection test: This qualitative test is designed to detect whether the hepatitis C virus is or is not present.
- The HCV PCR viral load test: This quantitative test looks for the virus and estimates the number of HCV viruses per ml of blood.
- The HCV PCR genotype test: This test looks for the virus and determines the particular subtype of HCV.
The three different HCV PCR tests serve different purposes. The qualitative test is done to confirm the presence of HCV in the blood of a person with positive HCV antibody test. The quantitative test is done to monitor the effectiveness of that treatment. The genotype test is usually done before the start of treatment because it can differentiate each of the major subtypes of HCV. Knowing the subtype can be important because, for example, treatment with interferon is more often effective for people with genotype subtypes 2 or 3 than for those with genotype 1.
See also : PCR; RT-PCR.