Evaluation of Quantitative Real-Time PCR as a Hepatitis C Virus Supplementary Test After RIBA Discontinuation

Shunyou Gong, Christine L. Schmotzer, Lan Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Laboratory testing plays a major role in hepatitis C virus (HCV) diagnosis and patient follow-up. The high false positive rates of HCV screening tests require confirmation through a supplementary test. According to the 2003 CDC guidelines, recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) is indispensible to confirm positive screening results and differentiate biologic false positivity from true HCV exposure. However, RIBA has been permanently discontinued since 2011. In the 2013 update of its guidelines, CDC called for further studies on HCV laboratory testing without RIBA. In this study, we analyzed the applicability of quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) as a supplementary HCV diagnostic test. By comparing our HCV testing performances before and after RIBA discontinuation, we found that omitting RIBA has no significant effect on the accurate and efficient identification of HCV infection, provided that HCV antibody signal-to-cutoff ratio is considered. Furthermore, we proposed a new HCV testing algorithm that incorporates semiquantitative assessment of HCV antibody positivity and HCV viral load measurement by qPCR. By following the algorithm, we were able to address confirmation of positive HCV screening results and to provide useful information generally required by clinicians, including the needs of further laboratory testing or clinical follow-up, as well as HCV viral titers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-423
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Laboratory Analysis
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • hepatitis C virus
  • laboratory testing
  • quantitative real-time PCR
  • recombinant immunoblot assay
  • supplementary test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Hematology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Microbiology (medical)


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