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Monday, April 28, 2014

Understanding The JC Virus Testing

Understanding the JC Virus Test

In our pursuit to learn more about PML, a blood test (the JC Virus Test) has been created to help identify the presence of the JC Virus. This section will help you understand what the JC Virus is, its connection to PML, and how taking the JC Virus Test can help you identify one of the risk factors for PML.

What is the JC Virus?

The John Cunningham Virus, or JC Virus, was first discovered in 1971. It's a common virus, unrelated to MS, that many people have been exposed to, typically in childhood.
In most of these people, the virus is dormant. Most people who are exposed to the virus don't know it or have any symptoms. But for people with weakened immune systems, such as people taking TYSABRI, the virus is able to mutate, spread to the brain, and multiply. This infection (known as PML) causes damage that can lead to symptoms that may be similar to MS symptoms, so it's important to recognize the common signs and symptoms of PML.

How can I get the JC Virus?

As mentioned above, many people have been exposed to the JC Virus, typically in childhood. So, even if you've tested negative for the JC Virus, you should consider taking the JC Virus Test periodically due to 2 factors:
  1. Future exposure to the JC Virus
  2. False negative test result
    The JC Virus Test is not 100% accurate. A "false negative" result occurs when the test indicates that the JC Virus is not present in your body, when it actually is. This has occurred in a small number of people who have taken the JC Virus Test.

Does the JC Virus put you at a higher risk for PML?

Having the JC Virus doesn't necessarily mean you'll get PML. But it does put you at a higher risk. To determine if you have been exposed to the JC Virus, your doctor may recommend taking the JC Virus Test. Please remember, this test does not diagnose PML, but it can be an important step in assessing your level of risk for PML. An MRI is one of the tools that can be helpful in the early identification of PML.

What does the JC Virus Test consist of?

It's a blood test that can help determine if you've been exposed to the JC Virus. Administration of the test only takes a few minutes. After you've taken it, the samples will be sent to a lab and evaluated, and your doctor should receive your results within a few weeks.

Where can you take the JC Virus Test?

The test is performed at neurologists' offices and labs across the country. You can find out more by talking with your doctor.

How much does the test cost?

In most cases, Biogen Idec covers the cost of the JC Virus Test. If you have any questions about this, please call 800.456.2255 to speak with a TYSABRIActiveSource™ Coordinator about financial assistance and the TYSABRIActiveAccess™ Program.

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