Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination
Blood vials

CDC calls for single-visit blood collection when testing for hepatitis C

July 13, 2023

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating its guidance on hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing, calling for all blood samples to be collected in a single visit.

“Using a single visit to conduct both steps of the HCV testing sequence will increase complete diagnosis of current HCV infection, which will increase the percentage of patients with current HCV infection who are linked to care and receive curative antiviral therapy,” experts wrote in a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Testing starts with an HCV antibody test. If that test is reactive, an RNA test must be performed. However, it can be cumbersome for patients to return for a second sample collection. Roughly one-third have incomplete testing, according to the report.

The CDC recommends using one of three strategies to collect the necessary samples in a single visit.

  1. Collect two specimens in separate tubes from a single venipuncture.
  2. If the same sample of venipuncture blood used for initial antibody testing is reactive, it is reflexed for RNA testing.
  3. If using finger-stick blood, collect a separate sample at the same visit.

The recommendations come just weeks after another MMWR showed only 34% of people diagnosed with hepatitis C had been cured, despite the availability of effective treatments. Among children and teens, only 25% had been cured. Some people are not able to access treatment due to the cost, insurance coverage restrictions and the multistep diagnosis process, according to the CDC.

“Tens of thousands of Americans with hepatitis C are getting liver cancer, suffering liver failure, or dying because they can’t access lifesaving medicine,” Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a press release. “In our nation, no one should have to live knowing a cure for their potentially deadly disease is available, but out of reach.”

Health officials have called for a national program to help overcome these barriers and eliminate HCV.



Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal