4.0 Informed Consent for Testing

Posted in: HCV

Informed consent for testing means that the person being tested agrees to be tested on the basis of understanding the testing procedures, the reasons for testing and is able to assess the personal implications. Informed consent is required for HCV testing, except for rare occasions when a legal order is made for compulsory testing or in emergency settings. On these rare occasions where informed consent cannot be attained, pre-test provision of all appropriate information to the person should still take place. The person performing the test should use their clinical judgment in securing informed consent. This should be based on their understanding of the context in which the test is being performed, taking into account:

  • the factors which indicate a need for testing such as clinical presentation, risk exposure, prevalence and individual initiation; and
  • an assessment of the understanding of the HCV testing process and the consequences of the result to the person being tested.

General principles of professional conduct apply in the case of HCV testing and informed consent. Consent to test should not be sought from sexual partners or family members of the person being tested. In the case of testing a child or person who is incapable of giving consent (perhaps due to mental illness or cognitive disability) then the responsibility for consent rests with the guardian or other person/agency legally authorised to make such decisions on their behalf.

People involved in HCV testing must use whatever additional support is necessary to assist the person considering testing to become adequately informed. This process involves a referral to the support groups listed in section 5.3, including access to telephone interpreters (available nationally for use by private and public health care professionals).34 Culturally relevant information should be provided when seeking informed consent and providing results.35

The person being tested needs to be made aware of confidentiality considerations and protections.36

Quick links to resources on this page

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National

Multilingual HIV and Hepatitis C factsheets

State and Territory links to hepatitis C notification forms

Further information on informed consent

34. Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National [internet]. Available at: help-with-english/help_with_translating/ (Cited 23 March 2012).
35. NSW Health. Multicultural HIV and hepatitis services. A statewide service hosted by Sydney Local Health District. Available at: (Cited 23 March 2012).
36. Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM). State and Territory links to hepatitis C notification forms (3 November 2011) [internet]. Available at: portal/Notification_forms_summary.pdf (Cited 23 March 2012).