Testing Issues in Huntington's Disease
Genetic Testing & Genetic Counseling
Genetic testing for Huntington's disease (HD) is a process that involves much more than just getting the results of a blood test. Many issues are at stake: financial, emotional, and social issues that involve not only the person seeking testing, but also his or her immediate family -- and often the extended family as well. Before giving a blood sample, the person seeking a test deserves an opportunity to examine these issues thoroughly with people who are experienced with genetic testing for HD.
While the actual DNA test for the HD gene expansion is a fairly straightforward laboratory process, the implications and emotional aftermath of the results are usually anything but straightforward. Since this is such a serious, degenerative brain disease and there is currently no cure for HD, the emotional burden of the results can be very challenging.
These are the reasons why genetic counseling has become an essential part of the HD testing process. Genetic counselors are non-directive and non-judgmental. Their job is to help people become better informed and to support independent decision-making around these very emotional and personal testing decisions. By discussing the issues involved with caring professionals (often together with other family members), people who are thinking about getting tested have the best opportunity to make informed decisions about whether testing is right for them at this time in their lives.
To learn more about the process for genetic counseling and testing at the UC Davis HD Center of Excellence, please see this guide to our genetic testing program for Huntington's disease (PDF).
And to learn more about the different types of genetic testing associated with HD, please see the following pages: