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A Guide to the VHT Lab Test
Viral hepatitis testing, commonly referred to as simply VHT, consists of various testing procedures to determine whether or not the patient does indeed suffer from hepatitis caused by a virus. These strains are known as A, B, C, D and E, with types A, B, and C being more prevalent. The most common form of VHT is usually the antibody and antigen tests. However, RNA testing and the immunoassay testing are often used in combination with the VHT to help confirm or deny such a diagnosis.
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Who Should Get the Test?
Viral hepatitis testing is recommended for health and public safety workers that have been exposed to blood and other bodily fluids believed to be contaminated with the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, correctional workers, inmates and those with sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV should also be screened. Those that have done illegal drugs via injection are also at high risk. Anyone that has come into contact with mucosal drainage or body fluids that could be contaminated should have the VHT, including the newborn if the mother has the virus.
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How Are VHT's Performed?
The tests for viral hepatitis are simple blood tests. They require no special preparation, such as fasting. The blood is typically drawn from a vein in the arm via a sterile needle. The only potential side effect of such tests is bleeding, which is quite rare among most patients. This procedure may routinely be performed at your physician’s office, hospital or another approved clinic.
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Interpreting the Results
VHT lab test results may be different, depending on the laboratory. However, the physician is screening for the actual particles of the virus. Therefore, results are deemed either positive or negative. The presence of significant amounts of the virus indicates that the patient has had the virus at one point in time, or is currently infected. Low amounts are indicative that the patient hasn’t had the virus or lacks an active infection when testing was performed.
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Is a Second Test Needed?
Additional tests are routinely performed in certain cases. For example, if there is reason to suspect that the patient does in fact have a viral infection or when the result is positive. Those that have only been recently exposed may not have large quantities of the virus present to confirm or deny a diagnosis. Therefore, other tests can be crucial to the patient.
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Are the Results Accurate?
As with other types of laboratory tests, it is possible to receive a false positive or false negative result. However, the likelihood of false results is significantly decreased by the utilization of other types of VHT testing. You should consult with your physician regarding any concerns or questions about the test results.
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Hepatitis. Lab Tests Online. www.labtestsonline.org. Modified 28, September 2010. Viewed 15, October 2010. http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/hep-4.html
Viral Hepatitis Testing 2009. Association of Public Health Laboratories. May 2010. Viewed 15, October 2010. http://www.aphl.org/aphlprograms/infectious/Documents/ID_2010May_ViralHepatitisSurveyReport.pdf