Why It Is Done
Hepatitis B testing is done to:
- Find the type of infection and see if an infection has occurred recently or in the past.
- Screen people who have a higher chance of getting or spreading hepatitis B. This includes doctors, dentists, and nurses.
- Screen blood donors and donor organs to prevent the spread of hepatitis B.
- Find out if a person has antibodies after getting a hepatitis B vaccination. Having antibodies means the vaccine worked.
- Find out if hepatitis B is the cause of abnormal liver function tests.
- See how well treatment of chronic hepatitis B is working.
What Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver infection that develops when a person contracts the hepatitis B virus through blood, semen, or another bodily fluid.
This can happen when people share needles, syringes, or other drug injection devices or during sexual activity. People can also pass the virus to their baby during childbirth.
Hepatitis B is not curable, but a vaccine can prevent the infection.
There are three types of blood tests for hepatitis B:
Other Ways To Get A Hepatitis B Test
People can get a hepatitis B test at a doctors office, community health clinic, or community health department. Doctors may ask about a persons family history of hepatitis B or liver disease and any possible exposures.
Some frequently asked questions about hepatitis B testing include the following:
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Does Hepatitis B Affect Fertility
Hepatitis B is unlikely to affect your fertility. If you have been trying to conceive by having regular sex for one year and have not become pregnant then you should speak to your GP. They will refer you and your partner for further tests if required.
Dr Gillian Holdsworth, Fettle’s Managing Director, Medical Doctor and public health expert.
If I Have Viral Hepatitis Am I Contagious
You may be contagious it depends on which hepatitis virus you were infected with and the stage of your infection. Often, people with viral hepatitis can spread the infection even though they don’t have symptoms. With hepatitis A, you may be contagious from the time you are infected and continue to be contagious, but less so, for several weeks after symptoms, such as jaundice, develop. A person with hepatitis B is contagious as long as the virus is present in their blood. Anyone who tests positive for the presence of hepatitis C virus should be considered contagious. The HCV RNA test may be performed as follow up to a positive result for anti-HCV.
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What Are The Symptoms
During the early stages of infection there may not be any symptoms. If symptoms do develop, this is usually within the first six months after infection. Those who do get symptoms may experience:
- flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, muscle aches and loss of appetite, feeling tired all the time
- yellowing of the eyes and skin
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite and weight loss
- sickness and diarrhoea.
Some people clear the virus after this initial stage. However, some people do not clear the virus without treatment and so they will develop a long term infection called chronic hepatitis. This can cause damage to the liver and can lead to liver cancer.
It can take up to 12 weeks for hepatitis B to show up in tests
Educating Clients About Viral Hepatitis
Clients may believe they know about viral , but their understanding of the disease may not be accurate. It is easy to confuse the three main types of viral , B, and C. Clients may have formed impressions based on limited or incorrect information. Counselors should briefly describe hepatitis A, B, and C, including their prevalence, , and relationship to drug use, as well as to other infections, such as HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Specific strategies for speaking with clients include:
- Speak clearly and keep the message simple, focused, and brief.
- Use language, examples, and concepts that the client understands.
- Use appropriate visual aids.
- Frame numerical statements in terms that are easy to visualize. Say 5 out of 100 people rather than 5 percent of the population say more than half instead of the majority.
- Repeat the information at different times in different ways. The average client retains only approximately one-third of what he or she is told. Summarize essential points.
- Pay attention to a clients response to the information. For example, if a client stiffens his or her posture, consider saying, I notice that this topic seems to make you uncomfortable. It does for a lot of people. Please tell me what youre feeling right now. Id really like to help you with this.
- Use the opportunity to describe the potential detrimental effects of alcohol and other substance use on the liver of a person who is infected with HCV.
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The Treatment Programs Role In The Screening Process
Medical staff members at substance abuse treatment programs might assume the primary role for screening individuals for and explaining the screening process and test results. Opioid treatment programs with medical staff members should screen for and C at intake and periodically as indicated. In programs without onsite medical staff, clients may be referred elsewhere for screening with minimal involvement of the substance abuse treatment program.
Regardless of the type of program, counselors should have a basic understanding of the importance of screening, the screening process, and the meaning of the results. Counselors can encourage clients referred for screening to follow through and complete the screening and evaluation process . Clients might feel anxious about being diagnosed with hepatitis, and they might delay or avoid getting screened.
How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis A , hepatitis B and hepatitis C , is diagnosed by your symptoms, a physical exam and blood tests. Sometimes imaging studies such as a sonogram or CAT scan and a liver biopsy are also used.
What are the types of Hepatitis?
There are several types of hepatitis, but the three most common in the U.S. are:
- Hepatitis A â It is considered highly contagious but is not a long-term infection and usually has no complications. Your liver usually heals within two months. Preventable with a vaccination, it can be spread by eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with the stool of a person who has the virus.
- Hepatitis B â While it can lead to long-term liver damage, most children and adults recover within 6 months. You can spread the virus even though you show no symptoms. Pregnant women who are infected by the virus can pass it along to their newborn. Also, preventable through vaccine, hepatitis B is spread by:
- Having sex with someone who’s infected
- Sharing dirty needles
- Having direct contact with infected blood or the body fluids of someone who’s got the disease
Who’s at Risk for Hepatitis Infection?
You are at increases risk hepatis A if you meet one or more of these criteria:
- Children born to mothers who have HBV
- People with certain high liver function blood tests
- Feeling sick to the stomach
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How Is The Test Used
An acute viral hepatitis panel is used to help detect and/or diagnose acute liver infection and inflammation that is due to one of the three most common hepatitis viruses: hepatitis A virus , hepatitis B virus , or hepatitis C virus .
There are several causes of hepatitis and the accompanying symptoms, so these tests are used to determine if symptoms are due to a current infection with a virus and to identify which virus in particular is causing the disease. These tests may also help determine if someone has been exposed to one of the viruses even before symptoms develop.
An acute viral hepatitis panel typically consists of the following tests:
Addressing Hepatitis For The First Time
It is crucial that a treatment counselor or health professional use a nonjudgmental and compassionate tone. Clients need to feel comfortable disclosing information about their health and risky behaviors. The following strategies can help initiate the conversation:
- Display posters, literature, or other -related items that could help prompt the client to ask questions about hepatitis. .
- Assess clients ability to discuss , based on their degree of openness in the counseling session, the amount of detail they provide in their responses, and the length of the therapeutic relationship.
- Raise the subject in a way that avoids making clients feel defensive or afraid. Consider introducing the subject by making parallels with other conditions that have been discussed. Say, for example, You said you were tested for HIV several times. Were you ever tested for viral ? or You mentioned that your friend is sick with HIV. Have you been tested for HCV or HIV? Tell me about those tests.
- Be patient and allow time for multiple, short conversations about the subject. This might ease feelings of fear, anxiety, or shame.
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How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis B
Like all STDs, the only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis B is to get tested whether or not you have symptoms.
If youre showing any signs of hepatitis B, you should get tested. Its also a good idea to get a test if you had unprotected sex or shared a needle, razor, or toothbrush with someone who has hepatitis B .
Your nurse or doctor will take a quick blood sample to test you for hepatitis B. It may take up to two months after infection for the test to be accurate but if youre not feeling well, dont wait to see a doctor or nurse.
What Is A Hepatitis C Screening
Testing for hepatitis C involves a blood test called an HCV antibody test . This test determines if youve ever had a hepatitis C infection by checking your blood for HCV-specific antibodies.
If you test positive for HCV antibodies, youll need to undergo follow-up testing. Having antibodies doesnt mean you currently have an active infection. It may simply mean that you have had a prior exposure that your immune system cleared.
To check whether you have an active infection, a doctor will order a nucleic acid test . A positive result means the virus is currently active in your bloodstream. If you get a negative result, the virus was once in your body, but its not anymore.
- have HIV
- have ever had a needle-stick injury or potentially been exposed to HCV-positive blood
- have had a tattoo or piercing done outside of a professional sterile environment
According to the , HCV may be passed through sexual activity, though this isnt common. The agency notes that your risk may be increased if you:
- have a sexually transmitted infection
- have sex with multiple partners
- have anal sex
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Hepatitis A Anitbody Test
This test detects whether you have produced antibodies known as immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G against the hepatitis A virus .
Remember too that the test will also come back positive for IgG if you have had the hepatitis A vaccination. It is presumed that one infection with hepatitis A produces lasting immunity against further infection.
If youve been diagnosed with hepatitis A, you can find out more about the condition, how to manage it and how best to look after yourself by downloading our publication on hepatitis A
Mylab Box At Home Hepatitis B Test
This hepatitis B test kit is registered by the Food and Drug Administration . It involves a finger prick collection and comes with free 2-day shipping. myLAB Box claims that a person can perform this test in 5 minutes.
Once people collect their sample and mail it to myLAB Box lab, they should receive their results within 25 days.
Free consultations are available for those who receive a positive result.
Pros and cons
Some advantages of this test include fast lab results and free consultations if the result is positive.
However, the company does not accept health insurance. Also, there is potential for user error or inaccurate results.
The company works with CLIA-certified labs, and people should receive their test results within 12 days.
Pros and cons
- helpful suggestions for complimentary tests
- consultations to discuss results
- over 4,500 testing centers in the United States
There are, however, limited lab locations in rural areas, and the company charges a 20% fee for order cancellations.
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How Long After Hepatitis B Exposure Should You Take A Test
People who think they may have come into contact with HBV and who are not vaccinated should contact a doctor within to get post-exposure prophylaxis treatment.
PEP treatment for hepatitis B can consist of the hepatitis B vaccine, an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin, which contains antibodies against HBV, or both.
The HBF states that it can take up to 9 weeks for HBV to show up in the bloodstream. The organization recommends that individuals who have never received PEP treatment get tested 9 weeks after exposure.
If the result is negative, a doctor may recommend the completion of the hepatitis B vaccine series.
Is There A Way To Prevent Viral Hepatitis
Yes. There is a vaccine available for hepatitis A. It is recommended for all children at age one year and for people who are at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. Hepatitis A can also be prevented with good hygiene. This includes washing hands well after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before eating or starting any food preparation.
Effective hepatitis B vaccines have been available in the U.S. since 1981, and beginning in 1991, healthcare practitioners in the U.S. began vaccinating all newborns. Children and adolescents who were not vaccinated at birth are routinely given the series of shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that adults in high risk groups get vaccinated. Unless there is something in your medical history to the contrary, it is prudent to get the series of vaccinations.
Currently, there is no vaccine available for hepatitis C, although efforts are ongoing to develop one. Spread of hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding exposure to blood and body fluids and the sharing of needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
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What Are The Treatments For Viral Hepatitis
The treatment for viral hepatitis depends on the type and stage of the infection. Over the last several years, excellent treatments for both hepatitis B and C have become available. More and improved treatments are being evaluated all the time.
Your primary care doctor should be able to provide adequate care of your hepatitis. However, if you have severe hepatitis, you may require treatment by a hepatologist or gastroenterologist — specialists in diseases of the liver. Hospitalization is normally unnecessary unless you cannot eat or drink or are vomiting.
Hepatitis A usually requires minimal treatment and your liver usually heals within 2 months. Make sure you stay hydrated and well-nourished. While a vaccination can prevent you from getting hepatitis A, once you have had it, you cannot be re-infected.
Doctors sometimes recommend drug therapy for people with hepatitis B and C. Antiviral medication for hepatitis B includes adefovir , entecavir , interferon, lamivudine , peginterferon , telbivudine , and tenofovir.
Until recently, the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C was a course of peginterferon plus ribavirin for people with genotype 2 and 3, and peginterferon plus ribavirin plus a protease inhibitor for people with genotype 1. These treatments had been shown to be effective in from 50% to 80% of those infected with hepatitis C but the side effects were very difficult for people to tolerate.
Hepatitis in Pregnant Women
Other Points to Consider
Getting Tested For Hepatitis C
A blood test, called an HCV antibody test, is used to find out if someone has ever been infected with the hepatitis C virus. The HCV antibody test, sometimes called the anti-HCV test, looks for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus in blood. Antibodies are chemicals released into the bloodstream when someone gets infected.
Test results can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to come back. Rapid anti-HCV tests are available in some health clinics and the results of these tests are available in 20 to 30 minutes.
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What Is In The Hepatitis B Self
The test for hepatitis B uses a blood sample collected from a finger prick. The kit contains:
- an alcohol swab to clean your finger
- a small lancet to make a tiny cut in your fingertip
- a sample tube
If youd like to test for any of the 6 most common infections, you can find out more about Fettles STI kits and customise your order.