Huntington’s Part Two!

The testing for Huntington’s disease is relatively simple but the results can lead to serious ramifications. A blood sample is used to count the number of CAG repeats on chromosome 4. There are three types of testing for Huntington’s. Presymtopatic is when the person has a family history of Huntington’s but is currently expressing not symptoms, confirmatory testing is used to determine whether a person already showing symptoms of Huntington’s actually has the disease and prenatal testing is done to determine if a fetus is at risk for HD.
The test itself is simple but the decision to undergo testing is a multi step process, which includes a neurological examination, pretest counseling and a follow up. The neurological exam is used to determine whether the person is actually showing symptoms and therefore if the test is really merited. The counseling explains to the person being tested about the disease, their level of risk and about the testing procedure as well as the test’s limitations and it’s accuracy. If the person decides that testing ids the next step and team of neurologists, genetic counselors, social workers and psychiatrists is assembled to help the person decide they are certain they want to undergo testing and to ultimately prepare them for the results.
People may choose to undergo testing even if they are showing no symptoms so that they can make more informed decisions about their futures or to settle any doubts. Some choose not to be tested in order to avoid loss of employment or medical coverage. Genetic counseling is often used by a family with a history of the disease who are considering having children. Testing is generally not recommended for patients under the age of 18 unless they have very compelling symptoms.
The test for Huntington’s can run between 600 to 1,500 dollars however it is generally advised to wait to submit the claim until after the results of the test come back negative. The discovery of a mutated Huntington gene can be considered a pre-existing condition and ca be used as grounds for denying medical coverage. In some states laws to exist that prohibit genetic discrimination and there is currently a federal law being considered that would do the same.