Current blood-based HCV testing requires two steps and can be expensive, inconvenient and is not widely available or affordable globally.

"Our novel HCV antigen test system has significantly improved sensitivity and specificity over current tests," said one of the researchers Ke-Qin Hu, professor at University of California Irvine School of Medicine in the US.

Approximately 150 million people worldwide are infected with HCV, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Finding a more convenient, easy-to-use and cost-effective screening alternative is imperative, because HCV is significantly under-screened and under-diagnosed,  Hu pointed out.

The current HCV screening test requires two steps. First, virus-specific antibodies must be detected in the blood. Then, another test must be administered to confirm whether or not the infection is active.

 Hu said many developing countries are not equipped to administer the two-step test.

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