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Testing for hepatitis C at home

Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect the liver.

Some people who are infected with hepatitis C get better without treatment. But for most people, the virus stays in the body unless it is treated and cured. Without treatment, it can eventually cause serious liver damage which can sometimes be life-threatening.


Do I need a hepatitis C test?

Hepatitis C is usually passed on by blood-to-blood contact, but can also be passed on during sex. Some of the common ways it can be passed on include:

  • sharing drug injecting equipment
  • unsterilised tattoo or piercing needles
  • sharing personal items like razors or toothbrushes
  • sex without a condom, particularly anal sex or any sex that increases the risk of bleeding.

If you think you might have been exposed to hepatitis C, getting tested is the only way to be sure. If you have the virus, you can get treatment to keep your liver healthy and avoid passing the infection on.

When do symptoms for hepatitis C appear?

Not everyone with hepatitis C gets symptoms and for people who do develop symptoms, they may seem like flu or another illness. This means you can have hepatitis C without realising it and can then pass it on to other people.

If you do get symptoms, they most often appear a few weeks after first having the hepatitis C virus.

But many people don’t get symptoms until much later when the liver has been damaged.

Hepatitis C symptoms

If you do get symptoms during the early stages of hepatitis C infection, these can include:

  • Feeling achy, like you have flu.
  • High temperature.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Tummy pain.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Feeling or being sick.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and of the whites of the eyes).

If hepatitis C stays in the body for longer than 6 months, it’s called chronic hepatitis C.

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C may include the above, plus additional symptoms like:

  • Depression.
  • Mood swings.
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.

When should I get tested for hepatitis C?

A test can’t always detect hepatitis C in the first few months after infection.

If it’s less than 3 months since you might have been exposed to hepatitis C, you can still do a test now, but if the test is negative you may need another test later.

Using condoms when you have sex, and not sharing personal items that may have blood on them means that if you do have hepatitis C, you’re less likely to pass it on.

If you have symptoms that you think could be hepatitis C, see your GP or sexual health service for advice.

What test do I need for hepatitis C?

Tests are available as part of our Comprehensive STI test kit and are for people with no symptoms.

If you have symptoms, get advice from your GP or a sexual health clinic as soon as possible.

The hepatitis C test is a blood test for both men and women.

You take a blood sample from your finger. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to do and shouldn’t be too painful. We’ll send everything you need, along with guidance on how to collect the blood.

Hepatitis C home test results

How quickly will I get my hepatitis C test results?

As soon as your hepatitis C test results are ready, we’ll be in touch by text or email. You’ll usually get your results in 2 to 5 days and will be able to access them securely online.

What happens if I get a positive hepatitis C test result?

If your hepatitis C test is positive, we will give you details of local services that can help you with treatment and advice.

You should see your GP or a sexual health clinic for advice and treatment. You can show them your online test result or print it out.

Modern treatments can cure more than 9 in 10 people. Treatment won’t stop you from getting hepatitis C again in the future.

Current or recent sexual partners and any people that you live with may need to be tested for hepatitis C. Sexual health services may be able to help you contact partners anonymously and can discuss how you can avoid passing on the virus.

How confidential is my hepatitis C test?

Our service is completely confidential. We won’t tell anyone else about your hepatitis C test and we don’t share your results with anyone else.

If your hepatitis C test is positive, you will need to share your result with your GP or a sexual health clinic to be able to access advice and treatment if you need it.

All our tests are delivered in plain packaging.

We have procedures in place to keep your data secure. See our FAQs for more information.

How accurate are hepatitis C tests?

All our tests are done by an expert testing laboratory.

No tests are 100% accurate, but when a hepatitis C test is done at the right time, our blood tests are very accurate at detecting the virus.

If you test earlier than 3 months after being exposed to hepatitis C then your test may be negative even though you do have hepatitis C. It’s advised to have a test at least 3 months after you could last have been exposed to hepatitis C.

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