A method of molecular diagnostics, which allows to identify the genetic material of the hepatitis C virus. The test consist in the investigation of a unique nucleotides sequence presence, which is characteristic only for the hepatitis C virus. In the diagnosis of viral hepatitis C, the following types of PCR are used:
- 1) Qualitative PCR analysis — is the first step in diagnosing the disease. It detects the presence of viral RNA particles in the blood. The results of this analysis can be "detectable" or "undetectable".
- 2) Quantitative PCR analysis — viral load measurement, i.e. viral RNA concentration in 1 ml of blood. This analysis is mandatory before starting the therapy as it plays a major role in treatment effectiveness monitoring.
- 3) Genotyping - analysis aimed to determine the viral genotype. There are 6 major genotypes of the hepatitis C virus, the most common are the first and third. Genotyping is one of the main tests needed to select the appropriate treatment strategy.