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Hepatitis C Viral Load Test

Test Overview

A viral load test measures how much hepatitis C virus is in the blood. Viral load may be measured before, during, and after treatment.

Why It Is Done

This test is done to see if there is any active virus in the blood. It's sometimes used to see how well treatment for hepatitis C is working. And it's done after treatment to see if treatment worked.

How to Prepare

In general, there is nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How It Is Done

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.


There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. A small bruise may form at the site.


The results of a viral load test show whether you have hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C viral load test


Hepatitis C is not detected (undetectable) in the blood.


Hepatitis C is detected in the blood. Viral load results are reported as a specific amount of virus (IU/mL) in the blood.

If the virus is undetectable, it usually means that you don't have hepatitis C. This can happen if your body cures the infection on its own. Or it can happen if you were treated with medicines.

If the virus is detected, it means that you have hepatitis C. If the viral load is checked during treatment, the level should go down.

Related Information


Current as of: September 8, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine