Hepatitis C RNA, Quantitation

Abbrev Code:HCVPCR   
Order Code:LAB887Order Name:Hepatitis C RNA Quantitative
Synonyms:HCV Viral Load; Hep C; HEPC; HCQNT; HCV RNA
Methodology:Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
CPT Codes: 87522 x1
Turnaround Time:Performed twice weekly; results are reported within 4 days.
Associated Links:

Hep C Screening with Reflex Cascade Algorithm

Collection Instructions

Optimal Volume:4 mL
Minimum\Peds Volume:2.2 mL
Container:10 mL Purple EDTA tube
Alternate Containers: Red or gold (gel)
Collection Instructions:When collecting minimum volumes, specimens cannot be shared with other tests. Please contact IDDL for further information.
Causes for Rejection:Heparinized specimens and sources other than purple EDTA plasma or red or gold (gel) serum are not acceptable for testing.

Processing and Shipping

Specimen Processing:

Within 24 hours centrifuge and aliquot 2 mL; 1 mL minimum. Store refrigerated or frozen.


Shipping Instructions:Ship at refrigerated or frozen.
Stability:Stability: Samples are stable at refrigerated temperature (2-8 degrees C) up to 3 days or frozen (-20 to -80 degrees C) up to 40 days.
Test Performed at or Referral Lab Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory   (UMMC East Bank)


Reference Range:Not detected. This assay as a result range of 15 to 100,000,000 IU/mL (1.18 log to 8.0 log IU/mL) for quantification of HCV RNA in plasma or serum. A 'Not Detected' result indicates that the assay was unable to detect HCV RNA within the specimen. A '<15 IU/mL (<1.18 log IU/mL)' result indicates that HCV RNA is detected but the level present is less than the lower quantification limit of the assay. A '>100,000,000 IU/mL (>8.0 log IU/mL)' result indicates that HCV RNA is detected, but the level present is above the upper quantification limit of the assay.

The detection of acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection before the appearance of HCV antibodies in serum (i.e., less than 2 months from exposure):

  • Confirming active HCV infection (HCV antibody-positive).
  • Detection and confirmation of chronic HCV infection.
  • Quantification of HCV RNA in plasma/serum of patients with chronic HCV infection (HCV antibody positive).
  • Monitoring disease progression in chronic HCV infection and/or response to anti-HCV therapy.


Except for immunocompromised patients or patients with suspected acute hepatitis, laboratory evaluation of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection status should begin with HCV serologic testing, including testing for the presence of HCV antibodies. A diagnosis of chronic HCV infection should not be based solely on the presence of detectable or quantifiable HCV RNA in a single plasma/serum specimen.


This assay is not for screening blood or tissue donors for HCV.


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