Antenatal Routine Hepatitis C Screening

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY1425-2024
  • Departments: Maternity Services
  • Last Updated: 1 April 2024


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about hepatitis C and hepatitis C testing.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet/booklet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your midwife, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that spreads through contact with infected blood. The most common routes of transmission are from blood transfusions before 1993, medical and dental procedures in some parts of the world, tattooing, body piercing or when injecting drugs. Hepatitis C is a major global health problem affecting over 1% of the world’s population. The level of infection in the UK is thought to be around 0.5% but this increases to up to as high as 15% in some countries.

Hepatitis C is known as a silent virus and it can go undiagnosed for years. However, up to 30% of people can progress to liver damage and between 1% and 5% develop a liver cancer.

Why do I need a test for Hepatitis C?

Hull University Teaching Hospitals Antenatal Services are providing opt out hepatitis C testing to all women at booking alongside routine hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis screening. This is a pilot project which we are running to work towards the World Health Organisation target to eliminate Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) by 2030.

Can there be any complications or risks?

The hepatitis C test is performed on the same blood tube, in the same laboratory, as the routine hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis tests performed at booking.

The risk of transmission of hepatitis C from mother to child is thought to be approximately 4% to 8%, which is less than for hepatitis B, HIV or syphilis. Treatment is now available for hepatitis C but not during pregnancy. Hepatitis C has not been found to cause problems during pregnancy.

How do I prepare for the test?

Please read the information leaflet.  Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support. There may be information they would like to know.

What will happen?

The blood test will be taken by a midwife or phlebotomist, using the same blood tube as for hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis testing.

What happens afterwards?

If your result is negative your midwife will discuss it with you. This will happen at or before your next antenatal appointment at about 16 weeks. It will also be recorded in your hand held or electronic maternity notes.

If you are positive for hepatitis C, a specialist midwife will contact you to arrange an appointment within 10 days. The midwife will discuss the result, carry out further tests and refer you to the Viral Hepatitis Team for further assessment.

Negative results

A negative result means you are ‘negative now’. This does not mean you are protected throughout your pregnancy or afterwards. Protect yourself from infection by avoiding transmission and tell your midwife or GP as soon as possible if you have been at risk of hepatitis C.

Positive results

If you have hepatitis C it is important for specialist teams to check your health before and after the birth. You will be offered an appointment with the Viral Hepatitis Team. Your partner, any other children and close family members may need testing and treatment. You will be offered treatment after you have given birth.

It is normal that your baby will come into contact with your blood when they are born. Because of this, the virus could be passed onto them. It is therefore very important that your baby is tested after birth.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for babies against hepatitis C but there is treatment available and it is important that children are under specialist care if they contract hepatitis C.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Screening Department on tel: 01482 382737, Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.