Hepatitis C – RNA RT-PCR

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit



2.5 ml

Blood, clotted - vacutainer tubes (SST)



2.5 ml

EDTA (lavender top)


Dried Blood Spot (DBS)

4 DBS per patient sample to allow for additional testing if required

DBS placed in individual resealable bag with a dessicant sachet in each bag


Haemolysed,icteric,lipemic or microbially contaminated sera or plasma are not recommended for testing.

Alternately, whole blood submitted must be received at your local PHO laboratory within 6 hours of collection of the blood.

DBS samples when prepared appropriately will be stable at room temperature for up to 30 days.

Preparation Prior to Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Serum or EDTA plasma must be removed from the clot within 6 hours of collection. Place specimen in a biohazard bag and seal. Specimens should be stored frozen and shipped to PHOL on ice packs or dry ice.

Upon separation plasma/serum may be stored in secondary tubes for up to 3 days at 2°C to 8°C or at -70°C or colder for longer term.

Filter cards containing dried blood spots should be shipped to the PHO laboratory in individual resealable bags containing a dessicant sachet. When sample is appropriately prepared, it will be stable at room temperature for 30 days. Do not refrigerate samples. Do not ship on week-ends.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Hepatitis C viral load testing for serum/plasma is performed daily Monday to Friday. Turnaround time is up to 6 days from receipt by PHO laboratory.

Hepatitis C viral load testing for DBS is performed once a week. Turnaround time is up to 10 days from receipt by PHO laboratory.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

Test Methods

Hepatitis C specimens for HCV - RNA are tested by the Roche Cobas 6800 Assay System utilizing Real Time PCR (RT-PCR) technology.

Viral load will be provided if sample tested has HCV RNA ≥15 IU/ml.

Viral load will be provided if DBS tested has HCV RNA ≥1000 IU/ml.

Hepatitis C viral load specimens for HCV genotyping are tested using the Abbott RealTime HCV Genotype ll  assay.

Hepatitis C specimens must have ≥ 500 IU/mL HCV Viral Load for the Genotype test to be performed.

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Updated 20 July 2020