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Diagnosis of Hepatitis C (HCV)

Robert Hindes MD

The co-founder of Trek Therapeutics, Robert Hindes, MD, was previously Group Director of Virology at Connecticut-based Bristol-Myers Squibb. Now the chief medical officer of Trek, Robert Hindes, MD, focuses on the creation of accessible, affordable, and innovative treatments for hepatitis C (HCV), which affects over 3.2 million people in the United States alone.

HCV is typically diagnosed via two blood tests: the antibody and PCR tests.

The antibody test reveals infection with HCV by searching for the presence of relevant antibodies in the blood stream. If antibodies are present, it indicates that the person has had active infection at some point, but the presence of antibodies is not sufficient to determine if an individual has a currently active infection. Further, since there may be up to 2 months between the time of infection and detection of antibodies, a negative test does not necessarily establish the absence of infection in an individual who had recent exposure. As such, those who have HCV symptoms but who test negatively should be retested at a later date.

Following a positive antibody test, patients undergo PCR blood tests, which determine if HCV is reproducing in the body. A positive PCR test confirms active infection is present in the liver, and the infected individual is at risk for disease progression leading to cirrhosis or liver failure.

 

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