• There are two types of blood tests for hepatitis C
  • Tests for hepatitis C are not part of normal blood tests. You have to ask for one.
  • Tests are free if you have a Medicare card.

There are two blood tests used to test for hepatitis C.  These tests are not part of normal blood tests. This means you may need to ask your doctor to test for hepatitis C.


Your doctor cannot test for hepatitis C unless you tell them it is OK. We call this giving your consent.


What this shows

Meaning if positive

Hepatitis C antibody test

Shows whether you have ever had hepatitis C.

You have come into contact with the hepatitis C virus. This means you have it now or had it in the past.

Hepatitis C RNA test

Shows whether you have hepatitis C now. It also shows how much of the virus you have.

You have hepatitis C. Talk to your doctor about getting cured.

Hepatitis C antibody test

If you have ever had hepatitis C, you will test positive for antibodies. You don't need to have this test again if you know you have tested positive before. Testing positive doesn't mean you have hepatitis C at the moment. Having antibodies doesn't protect you from getting the virus again.

 Your body can take up to 12 weeks to start making hepatitis C antibodies after you get the virus. This means you might need to get a different test if you think you could have caught the virus recently.

 Find out more about how you can get hepatitis C.

 If you do test positive, then you'll need to have another test, called an RNA test. Your doctor may order this at the same time as the antibody test.

 Read the Patient Pathway Guide

Hepatitis C RNA test

The RNA test will show if you have hepatitis C now. It may also show how much of the virus you have in your blood. If you do have the virus, you can pass it on to others through your blood.

How much do the tests cost?

The tests are free through Medicare. There is a limit to how many free tests you can have each year.

You can only get the RNA tests for free if your antibody test was positive. Your doctor will do an antibody test first unless you have had a positive antibody test result before.

You will have to pay the fee to see your doctor unless they offer bulk billing.

What happens if I have hepatitis C?

95% of people that have hepatitis C will get better with medicine. You will be given direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medicines. Talk to your doctor about getting cured. You should also be careful not to let your blood come into contact with other people's blood. This can happen through:

  • sharing injecting equipment
  • sharing household items (razors or toothbrushes)
  • having unprotected anal sex (without a condom)

 DAA medicines are easy to take. Most people have very few side effects.

Find out more about stopping the spread of hepatitis C.

Find out more about medicine for hepatitis C.


Find out more about hepatitis C tests by calling the National Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 437 222.

Use the following links to find out more about hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C

Hepatitis C prevention

Symptoms of hepatitis C

Hepatitis C cures


Hepatitis C. Better Health Channel, Victorian Government Department of Health

Diagnostic Strategies. Testing Portal, ASHM

Testing for Hep C. ASHM

Page updated 10 November 2022