Screening and diagnosis

Blood test

When a person has antibodies to HCV, it means he has been in contact with the virus. Only by testing the blood for viral RNA, an active infection can be confirmed.¹

Degree of inflammation and fibrosis of the liver

These parameters are determined by the hepatologist using non-invasive tests, including elastographic measurement techniques (e.g. FibroScan) and formulas based on different blood values (e.g. Fibrotest) or liver biopsy (less and less frequent).

Acute phase of infection

The acute phase of HCV infection is most often symptom-free or accompanied only by mild, non-specific symptoms such as fever, nausea, flu-like symptoms and/or abdominal pain.

This is why the infection is often not detected in the acute phase. The patient can also naturally eliminate the virus at this stage (15 to 25% of infections).

Chronic phase of infection

The chronic phase is characterized by the presence of HCV infection for more than 6 months and is called chronic hepatitis C (CHC).¹

Evolution of the disease

Extrahepatic complications

Hepatitis C can seriously impair a patient’s quality of life, as the disease not only impacts the liver but must be considered a systemic disease. Symptoms such as fatigue, depression and cognitive impairment are reported in approximately 50% of hepatitis C patients and are not necessarily proportional to the severity of the underlying liver disease. Peripheral neuropathy is observed in as many as 75% of patients with hepatitis C. In addition, hepatitis C may be associated with more severe extrahepatic manifestations, such as B-cell lymphoma, type 2 diabetes, cryoglobulinopathy, and arthralgia.6-7

HCV, Hepatitis C virus;CHC, chronic hepatitis C.


Although this information is believed to be true and correct as of the date of publication (September 2020), changes in circumstances after the time of publication may affect the accuracy of the information.

This page will be updated regularly.


  1. European Center for Disease Analysis (eCDC). Hepatitis C. geraadpleegd op September 19, 2017.
  2. Ali A, Zein NN. Hepatitis C infection: A systemic disease with extrahepatic manifestations. Cleveland CLin J Med 2005;72:1005-1019.
  3. Cacoub P, Comarmond C, Domont F, Savey L, Desbois AC, Saadoun D. Extrahepatic manifestations of chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Ther Adv Infect Dis 2016;3(1):3-14.