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Hepatitis C is an infection that affects the liver. The hepatitis C virus (HCV), which causes the infection, is usually transmitted by coming into contact with blood that’s positive for the virus.

Screening for hepatitis C is important because the virus can cause liver damage even if there aren’t any outward signs of the virus. It’s also possible to pass it to someone else without even knowing you have the disease.

If you suspect you’ve contracted HCV, the best thing to do is to see a doctor in person. If you can’t get to a doctor, at-home tests can be helpful, but you should still talk with a doctor about your results. Some online services will put you in touch with a healthcare professional to help you go over your results. Otherwise, you can make an appointment with your regular doctor or at a local clinic.

Below, we provide more details about:

  • hepatitis C screening
  • why you might want to get tested
  • our best at-home test picks
  • how to interpret test results

Testing for hepatitis C involves a blood test called an HCV antibody test (or anti-HCV test). This test determines if you’ve ever had a hepatitis C infection by checking your blood for HCV-specific antibodies.

If you test positive for HCV antibodies, you’ll need to undergo follow-up testing. Having antibodies doesn’t mean you currently have an active infection. It may simply mean that you have had a prior exposure that your immune system cleared.

To check whether you have an active infection, a doctor will order a nucleic acid test (NAT). A positive result means the virus is currently active in your bloodstream. If you get a negative result, the virus was once in your body, but it’s not anymore.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following people should be tested for hepatitis C:

  • all adults
  • pregnant people
  • people with risk factors

You may be at higher risk for hepatitis C if you:

  • have ever injected illegal drugs, even if only one time
  • received clotting factor produced before 1987
  • received a blood transfusion or had an organ transplant before July 1992
  • received blood from someone who later tested positive for HCV
  • had long-term hemodialysis as a child
  • have consistently high levels of abnormal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in your blood
  • were birthed by someone who was HCV positive
  • have HIV
  • have ever had a needle-stick injury or potentially been exposed to HCV-positive blood (this is more likely if you work in a healthcare setting)
  • have had a tattoo or piercing done outside of a professional sterile environment

According to the CDC, HCV may be passed through sexual activity, though this isn’t common. The agency notes that your risk may be increased if you:

  • have a sexually transmitted infection
  • have sex with multiple partners
  • have anal sex

Ideally, you should talk with a doctor about hepatitis C screening. They’ll ask you about any potential exposures or risk factors and will probably order a blood test to check for HCV antibodies. You can get your blood tested anywhere that does routine blood work.

It’s the same procedure as getting a routine blood test.

We reviewed each brand’s business and medical practices, checking:

  • their BBB rating, if they have one
  • whether they’ve been involved in any lawsuits
  • whether they provide help interpreting your results
  • whether they make any unacceptable health claims

All companies on the list also state they use accredited labs to process their testing kits.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$100
  • $$$ = over $100

Best overall at-home hepatitis C test

Everlywell Hepatitis C Test

  • Price: $
  • Pros: affordable, includes follow-up with a medical professional
  • Cons: None specific to this test. Not everyone will be comfortable pricking themselves, though.

This kit from Everlywell tests for HCV antibodies to see if you’ve ever had a hepatitis C infection. Testing involves taking a finger-prick blood sample. The test should be safe and accurate, as long as you follow the directions. However, just because you test positive for HCV antibodies doesn’t mean you have an active infection.

The test ships free and includes prepaid return shipping. The testing kit includes everything you need to take a finger-prick blood sample, including:

  • gauze
  • an alcohol pad
  • a bandage
  • a lancet
  • a collection card

When you’re done collecting the sample, you’ll put it into the biohazard bag and send it back for testing using the prepaid return label. You should receive results within a few days. If you test positive, a physician will get in touch to discuss your results and next steps.

Reviewers say the test is quick and efficient, and that results are well explained. Most of them say that they would use the service again.

You can pay for the test using a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA). Your insurance company might cover this type of testing, but it’s entirely dependent on your provider.

Best at-home hepatitis B and C test

Let’sGetChecked Hepatitis B and C Test

  • Price: $$
  • Pros: tests for both hepatitis B and C, includes option to speak with a nurse if you test positive
  • Cons: no option to test for hepatitis C only

If you want to buy a hepatitis C test from Let’sGetChecked, you have to buy the hepatitis B and C testing bundle.

The hepatitis B surface antigen test (HBsAg) checks for hepatitis B specific antigens and antibodies in the blood. A positive test means you can transmit the virus, but it can’t tell you if you have a chronic or acute infection.

Additionally, a negative test will only tell you that you’re not currently contagious. You can test negative and still have hepatitis B. Let’sGetChecked doesn’t include this info on the product page.

Testing for hepatitis C involves an HCV antibody test. You’ll need additional testing if you test positive for HCV antibodies.

Tests from Let’sGetChecked should be safe and accurate when used as directed. Still, you should talk with your doctor about your results.

Both the hepatitis B and C tests involve taking a finger prick sample. You can take the sample in the morning and send it back the same day.

Results should arrive within 2 to 5 business days. If either test returns a positive result, a nurse will get in touch to go over what this means. However, we recommend also going over your results with your doctor.

Let’sGetChecked has a 4.4 average on TrustPilot. Reviewers appreciate the quick and easy testing process. However, some customers complain about shipping issues and results taking longer than expected.

Best at-home hepatitis C and STI test

Nurx Full Control Home STI Test Kit

  • Price: $$$
  • Pros: includes comprehensive STI testing
  • Cons: not available in all states, some customer service complaints

This test kit includes tests for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis C. The collection method varies by test, so you’ll have to do a urine sample, throat swab, rectal swab, and finger prick sample.

You’ll pay a $15 consultation fee. For the consultation, a healthcare professional reviews your information and orders the tests. The fee gives you access to a Nurx medical professional for 1 year, allowing you to ask questions about the test or your results.

The kit is shipped to you within about 3 to 5 business days. The company takes insurance, but it’s still best to check with your provider before assuming they will cover testing.

There are no customer reviews specifically for the hepatitis and STI testing kit, but overall, reviews on the website are largely positive. People say they love the convenient service. Negative reviews complain mostly about poor communication.

Reviews about Nurx on other sites are mixed, and the company has a lousy BBB rating. Most of the complaints have to do with poor customer service.

Best at-home hepatitis C test with fast results

myLAB Box Hepatitis C Test

  • Price: $$
  • Pros: includes phone consultation with a healthcare professional if you get a positive test result
  • Cons: some customers say the company is unreliable

The myLAB Box Hepatitis C Test checks for HCV antibodies in the blood. If you test positive, you’ll need to get a nucleic acid test to check if you have an active infection. The company urges customers to bring their results to their doctor for follow-up and treatment.

The 5-minute test requires a finger prick blood sample. You’ll send back the kit and get your results within 2 to 5 business days. A free consultation with a physician is available if you test positive, but the company recommends going over your results with your regular doctor, if you have one.

You can use an FSA or HSA account to pay for the test, or pay out of pocket.

There are only two reviews for the hepatitis C kit, both overwhelmingly positive. On TrustPilot, myLAB Box has an average rating of 3.1. Many people are happy with their purchase and say the process is easy and convenient. However, some reviewers complain that the company is unresponsive and unreliable.

Best at-home hepatitis C test with fast shipping

iDNA Hepatitis C Test

  • Price: $$
  • Pros: includes free retest if your results are positive
  • Cons: no follow-up if you test positive, shipping isn’t free

The iDNA testing kit comes with easy-to-follow directions and everything you need to take samples at home. The test requires a finger prick sample to check for HCV antibodies.

If you test positive, the company offers a free re-test. However, they don’t provide any consultation with a healthcare professional. Instead, they recommend you see your doctor to go over your results and talk about treatment options.

You’ll have to pay for return shipping. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can choose between first class, business, and overnight shipping.

You can check your test result through the iDNA app or receive them via email. iDNA doesn’t take health insurance, but you may be able to submit a claim to your provider.

Reviews for iDNA are generally positive. The company has a 4.2 average rating on TrustPilot, where people say they appreciate the convenient, fast results. Still, some reviewers complain that getting results takes forever.

Here’s how to interpret at-home hepatitis C test results:

  • If you test negative (HCV antibody nonreactive) for the HCV antibody test, that means you don’t need to do any more testing — unless you suspect a recent exposure. If so, you should consider an NAT.
  • If you test positive (HCV antibody reactive) for the HCV antibody test, that means you have had exposure to the hepatitis C virus. To find out if you have an active infection, you’ll need to get an NAT.

You’ll need to see a doctor in person to ask about getting an NAT. You can’t order this type of test online.

  • A positive NAT means you have a current HCV infection. Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan.
  • A negative NAT means you don’t have a current HCV infection.

Even if you opt for at-home testing, it’s always a good idea to see your doctor once you get back your results. They can help you interpret them. You can also ask follow-up questions and get information about your health.

What is a hepatitis C test?

A hepatitis C test checks for HCV antibodies in your blood. If you test positive, that may mean you have an active infection. Another test, called a nucleic acid test (NAT), is required to verify whether the infection is active.

How is a hepatitis C test done?

Testing for hepatitis C involves taking a blood sample.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

Symptoms depend on how long you’ve had the infection. Many people with a newly contracted HCV infection don’t have any symptoms at all. Those who develop symptoms may have:

People with a long-term infection (also known as chronic hepatitis C) may experience depression and fatigue. Eventual complications include liver disease and cancer.

What are the treatments for hepatitis C?

Treatment involves taking antiviral medication for up to 24 weeks. In most cases, this can cure an HCV infection.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.