antibodies can be detected if infection has occurred recently. For people with
immune deficiencies (e.g. HIV/AIDS), antibodies may take up to nine months to
develop. Some people with severe immune deficiency may never develop
antibodies, even if HCV RNA is detectable.
contrast, newborn babies whose mothers have hepatitis C can have HCV antibodies
in their blood without having the infection.
recent infection is suspected, an HCV RNA test is carried out at once
independently of the antibody test. This test is more time-consuming and
expensive than the antibody test, but it generally produces reliable results as
early as two weeks after an infection.