Department of Virology, INSERM U635, Henri Mondor Hospital, University of Paris XII, Créteil, France
The use of serological and virological tests has become essential in the management of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in order to diagnose infection, guide treatment decisions and assess the virological response to antiviral therapy. Virological tools include serological assays for anti-HCV antibody detection and serological determination of the HCV genotype, and molecular assays that detect and quantify HCV RNA and determine the HCV genotype. Anti-HCV antibody testing and HCV RNA testing are used to diagnose acute and chronic hepatitis C. Only patients with detectable HCV RNA should be considered for pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin therapy and the HCV genotype should be systematically determined before treatment, as it determines the indication, the duration of treatment, the dose of ribavirin and the virological monitoring procedure. HCV RNA monitoring during therapy is used to tailor treatment duration in HCV genotype 1 infection, and molecular assays are used to assess the end-of-treatment and, most importantly the sustained virological response, i.e. the endpoint of therapy.
Keywords: Hepatitis C virus, serological and virological tests, HCV RNA