Assess exposure to hepatitis C virus infection; test blood safety.
Following the development of sensitive and specific testing for hepatitis B, 90% of post-transfusion hepatitis is now hepatitis C. A gene product (c100) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) was isolated and an assay for anti-HCV developed. The assay detects antibody to a presumptive togavirus or flavivirus which may be an etiologic agent of non-A, non-B hepatitis (which may not be a unitary disease entity).
For blood donors, hepatitis C serology correlates with surrogate tests for non-A, non-B hepatitis (ALT and anti-HBc). Since hepatitis C serology identifies a broader group of infected individuals than surrogate testing, it reduces risk of HCV during transfusion. Studies in hemophiliacs indicate that antibody to HCV is a reliable marker of HCV.