There is another test that IS included in routine blood work that may indicate Hepatitis C infection...but the results of this test are often overlooked by primary care physicians. Most blood tests or "panels" measure the level of ALT (alanine aminotransferase) in the blood. Elevated ALT is abnormal: it does not always indicate Hepatitis C infection, but many* people with Hepatitis C have elevated ALT.
A recent study revealed that many primary care doctors do not follow up on elevated ALT in patients' blood work. The authors of the study point out that Hepatitis C is often NOT detected in primary care settings, and that monitoring and following up on high ALT would be one way to increase diagnosis and treatment of Hepatitis C BEFORE serious liver damage has developed.
People with elevated ALT should be screened for Hepatitis C antibodies...particularly because the Hepatitis C test is simple and quite inexpensive.
Remember, the best way to find out that you may be infected with Hepatitis C is to have a simple Hepatitis C antibody test. But until Hepatitis C screening is broadly recommended or mandated, monitoring and following up on high ALT is one way for doctors to identify patients for Hepatitis C testing.
* Not every person with Hepatitis C, and even advanced liver damage, has elevated ALT.