Asking for a test

Some GPs are reluctant to carry out or make a referral for hepatitis C testing. This can be for a number of reasons. Firstly, they may consider that other tests should be performed prior to a hepatitis C test. With the medical information they have on you, they also might not believe that you have been properly exposed to the risk of HCV infection. There is a further possibility that your GP may not actually know too much about hepatitis C.

If you believe you may have been exposed to hepatitis C, or have symptoms that may be caused by the virus and feel an antibody test is necessary, do not be swayed by this. Try to explain your concerns and if necessary, ask for a second opinion. If you are experiencing real resistance from your GP and think it might be necessary to make a complaint or change your GP altogether, you can exercise your right to do so. See Dealing with doctors.

Alternatively, if you are generally happy with the care your GP is providing you but are unable to receive a hepatitis C antibody test then you could consider approaching your local Sexual Health Centre or the GUM Clinic (genitourinary medicine) at your local hospital.

Some GUM or Sexual Health clinics may also be unwilling to test for hepatitis C. It is not, strictly speaking a sexually transmitted disease. It may help if they think that you could have been exposed to HIV at the same time.

If you have received a negative test result in the past but are now concerned about a recent exposure you are entitled to a further test. You do not have to return to the same testing place, neither do you have to reveal that you have previously been tested. All information you provide should be treated with respect and confidence.