Through them, the correct diagnosis is made in cases of suspected viral hepatitis. They look for specific protective proteins in the patient’s blood (antibodies) directed against a specific virus; usually, when viral hepatitis is suspected in an otherwise healthy person, antibodies against hepatitis A, B and C viruses are tested.
Especially in cases with suspected hepatitis C, two types of serological tests are applied:
- those that detect specific viral particles in the blood;
- those that detect specific protective protein molecules (antibodies) against certain viral particles.
Specific antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system. The combination of the results of the various serological tests gives information about the phase of the infection, the body’s defenses, the aggressiveness and “contagiousness” of the infection, a forecast for the development and further course of the disease, etc.
First, when HCV infection is suspected or during routine testing, antibodies against the hepatitis C virus are tested. The presence of such antibodies can be found in acute hepatitis C, chronic hepatitis C or complete recovery after hepatitis C. Usually in the presence of symptoms of liver disease, increased values of liver enzymes and belonging to one of the risk groups, a positive test for antibodies against HCV confirms the diagnosis of hepatitis C in about 95%. In doubtful cases, a retest for antibodies is performed using a more precise method.