How To Get Tested
Hepatitis B testing is typically prescribed by a doctor and performed in a hospital, lab, or other medical setting. Taking a hepatitis B test requires a blood sample, which can be collected by a health care professional.
For laboratory-based testing, blood is drawn from a patientâs vein. After blood is collected, the sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis.
What Is Being Tested
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus . Hepatitis B blood tests detect viral proteins , the antibodies that are produced in response to an infection, or detect or evaluate the genetic material of the virus. The pattern of test results can identify a person who has a current active infection, was exposed to HBV in the past, or has immunity as a result of vaccination.
For details on the various tests, see the table under Common Questions: How is it used?
Hepatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation and, sometimes, enlargement of the liver. It has various causes, one of which is infection by a virus. HBV is one of five “hepatitis viruses” identified so far that are known to mainly infect the liver. The other four are hepatitis A, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E.
HBV is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids from an infected person. Exposure can occur, for example, through sharing of needles for IV drug use or through unprotected sex. People who live in or travel to areas of the world where hepatitis B is prevalent are at a greater risk. Mothers who are infected can pass the infection to their babies, usually during or after birth. The virus is not spread through casual contact such as holding hands, coughing or sneezing. However, the virus can survive outside the body for up to seven days, including in dried blood, and can be passed by sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person.
Do I Need A Hepatitis Panel
Few reasons that have prompted your healthcare provider to order the hepatitis panel for you are: You have exhibited some acute symptoms of hepatitis and the type of virus A, B, or C is not known. You carry an elevated risk of hepatitis infection due to recent exposure and a hepatitis panel may be recommended to determine the type of virus behind the hepatitis infection. Your doctor may ask you to undergo the test even in the absence of symptoms. If you show signs of liver damage, then the hepatitis panel test is a must for you. Some of the overriding symptoms that prompt a hepatitis panel test are: Loss of appetite Illegal drugs
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Where Can I Get A Hepatitis B Test
You can get tested for hepatitis B and other STDs at your doctors office, community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center.
Getting tested for STDs can sometimes feel scary, but once you get it over with it can really put your mind at ease. And if you DO have an STD, its best to know sooner so you can get the care you need.
STD testing isnt usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam you have to ask for it directly. Be open and honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help figure out what tests are best for you. Dont be embarrassed: doctors are there to help, not judge.
Its extra important to get tested if youre pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Hepatitis B can easily spread to your baby during birth, which can be dangerous. If you have hepatitis B, your doctor can give your baby treatments.
Who Is At Risk Of Hepatitis B
Anyone can get hepatitis B, but those most at risk are:
- babies born to mothers who have hepatitis B
- people with multiple sex partners
- men who have sex with men
- people with a sexually transmitted infection
- people who inject illegal drugs
- people who use unsterile equipment for tattooing
- people who live with someone who has hepatitis B
- healthcare and public safety workers exposed to blood at work
- people having kidney dialysis
- travelers to regions with intermediate or high rates of hepatitis B
- people who participate in contact sports where there is high risk of bleeding injury
- people aged 25 years or over who are of Mori, Pasifika or Asian ethnicity
- people born in Asia or the Pacific Islands.
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What To Do If The Hcv Antibody Test Is Reactive
If the antibody test is reactive or positive, you need an additional test to see if you currently have hepatitis C. This test is called a nucleic acid test for HCV RNA. Another name used for this test is a PCR test.
If the NAT for HCV RNA is:
- Negative you were infected with hepatitis C virus, but the virus is no longer in your body because you were cured or cleared the virus naturally.
- Positive you now have the virus in your blood.
If you have a reactive antibody test and a positive NAT for HCV RNA, you will need to talk to a doctor about treatment. Treatments are available that can cure most people with hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks.
Hepatitis B Surface Antibody Test
This test checks whether a person is immune to HBV or whether the body has developed resistance to the virus.
Those who are immune to hepatitis B receive a positive result. A positive result may indicate that the person is vaccinated or is recovering from acute hepatitis B.
According to the Hepatitis B Foundation , people who are immune to HBV cannot contract the virus from other people or contaminated areas and therefore cannot spread HBV to others.
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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.
How To Avoid Hepatitis B
- never share any drug-injecting equipment with other people
- dont get tattoos or piercings from unlicensed places
- dont share razors, toothbrushes or towels that might be contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids
- use a condom, especially with a new partner, for anal and oral sex. You can order male and female condoms here.
- hepatitis B vaccine is available from the NHS, and is recommended for people who are at risk of infection. This includes people who inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people whose partners or close family have the virus.
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When Should I Get Hepatitis B Testing
Using hepatitis B tests to screen for HBV is recommended for certain groups that are at an increased risk of infection. Groups that may benefit from hepatitis B screening include:
- Pregnant people
- People born in parts of the world where hepatitis B is more common, including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and parts of the Middle East
- People who didnât receive a hepatitis B vaccine
- HIV-positive people
- Pain in the joints or abdomen
- Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
- Yellowish skin and eyes
Using hepatitis B testing to assess immunity to HBV may be used before or after vaccination. Pre-vaccination testing is not always needed but may be performed if there is a chance that a patient has previously been infected with HBV or has already been vaccinated. Post-vaccination testing is used in certain groups of people who are at an especially elevated risk for HBV infection, including infants born to mothers with a hepatitis B infection.
What Treatments Are Available For Chronic Hepatitis B If Medications Dont Work
If you have advanced hepatitis B, you might also become a candidate for a liver transplant. This path does not always result in a cure because the virus continues in your bloodstream after a transplant. To prevent being infected again after your transplant, you may be prescribed hepatitis B immunoglobulin with an antiviral agent.
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Counseling Practices That Educate Support And Motivate Clients Undergoing Screening
Clients might need help deciding whether to get screened, understanding the test results, and determining their next steps. Even when services offered through the substance abuse treatment program are limited, discussing testing with clients presents an opportunity for counselors to motivate clients for change by confronting substance use and by making choices that improve their overall health. However, this may also be true when services are offered on-site through substance abuse treatment programs. A study at one methadone clinic that offered hepatitis screening and vaccination revealed that although the majority of clients completed screening , only 54.7 percent of clients who lacked for hepatitis A received vaccinations and only 2.9 percent of clients who lacked immunity for received vaccinations .
The Consensus Panel makes the following general recommendations while recognizing that, in some programs, the counselors role may be limited:
What Are The Risk Factors For Getting Hepatitis B
Due to the way that hepatitis B spreads, people most at risk for getting infected include:
- Children whose mothers have been infected with hepatitis B.
- Children who have been adopted from countries with high rates of hepatitis B infection.
- People who have unprotected sex and/or have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
- People who live with or work in an institutional setting, such as prisons or group homes.
- Healthcare providers and first responders.
- People who share needles or syringes.
- People who live in close quarters with a person with chronic hepatitis B infection.
- People who are on dialysis.
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Other Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Getting Hepatitis B
- Never share drug equipment with other drug users. This includes needles, syringes, spoons and filters as well as bank notes or straws to snort cocaine.
- Do not share personal items such as toothbrushes and razors.
- Use a condom during sex, including anal and oral sex.
- Have an STI check before you have unprotected sex with a new partner
- Limit how much alcohol you drink. Read more about safer alcohol limits.
- Make sure any blood spills are cleaned up properly the virus can live on objects for 7 days or more. Even if you dont see any blood, the virus could still be there.
Protect new sexual partners
If you are a carrier for hepatitis B and have a new sexual partner then they will be at risk of catching it from you. They should be checked for immunity against hepatitis B .If your partner is not immune, then they can receive a free hepatitis B vaccination which will protect them from getting acute hepatitis B. After they have finished the course of vaccines , they should be tested for protective immunity against hepatitis B. Until then, you and your partner should use condoms to prevent hepatitis B infection.
Where do I go for a sexual health check-up?
Questions For Your Doctor About Test Results
Patients may find it helpful to ask questions about their hepatitis B test results. Questions that may be helpful include:
- What was my test result?
- Do I have an acute or chronic hepatitis B infection?
- Does the test result suggest that I have immunity for hepatitis B?
- Would I benefit from hepatitis B vaccination?
- Do I need any follow-up tests based on my hepatitis B test results?
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How To Prevent Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus . It can be serious and theres no cure, but the good news is its easy to prevent. You can protect yourself by getting the hepatitis B vaccine and having safer sex. If you have oral, anal, and vaginal sex, use condoms and dental dams to help stop the spread of hepatitis B and other STDs.
What Are My Next Steps Once I Get My Results
It can be difficult to understand what the results of your test mean. A healthcare provider can help you interpret your results and decide whether you need to take further action:
- If your results suggest that youre already immune to hepatitis B and arent contagious, you likely wont need to do anything.
- If your results suggest that youre not immune, a doctor may recommend vaccination, especially if youre somebody whos at a high risk of infection.
You may also need additional testing if more information is needed to interpret your results.
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How Is Hepatitis B Treated
Anyone with acute hepatitis B should be assessed by a doctor. You may not need any treatment for the infection itself, but may need some relief from the symptoms, such as pain relief.
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you will need to be seen by a specialist in liver disease may need to take medication to prevent liver damage and have regular tests. There are now very effective medications that can suppress the virus over many years.
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:
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The Hep B Blood Tests
There are 3 hep B tests called HBsAg, anti-HBs, and anti-HBc. You should make sure your doctor does all three hep B tests. Our hep B testing chart can explain each test and help you to make sure your doctor does all the tests you need.
These three tests tell you if you have hep B, if you are protected against hep B , and if you have ever come into contact with hep B. Getting all three tests is important to helps you and our doctor understand your hep B status.
What Is Hepatitis B And How Is It Transmitted
Hepatitis B is a virus that can infect and damage the liver. It is carried in the blood and bodily fluids. It is usually transmitted through blood to blood contact but can also be passed on through bodily fluids. This might be through sharing needles when injecting drugs, a cut in the skin that comes into contact with infected blood, use of unsterilised equipment when getting a tattoo or body piercing, or sharing razors or toothbrushes that are contaminated with infected blood or other bodily fluids.
It can be transmitted through sex, although this is rare and can be prevented by using a condom. However, it is 50 – 100 times more infectious than HIV.
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What Is Hepatitis D And How Is It Associated With Hepatitis B
Hepatitis D is another virus that can cause liver infections, but only if hepatitis B is also present. A person may become infected with both viruses at the same time or may first be infected with hepatitis B and then become infected with HDV . In the U.S., the incidence of HDV is low. There is no vaccine for HDV, but since it causes infections only in the presence of HBV, it may be prevented with the HBV vaccine.
What Should You Know About Pregnancy And Hepatitis B
A pregnant woman who has hepatitis B can pass the infection to her baby at delivery. This is true for both vaginal and cesarean deliveries.
You should ask your healthcare provider to test you for hepatitis B when you find out you are pregnant. However, while it is important for you and your healthcare provider to know if you do have hepatitis B, the condition should not affect the way that your pregnancy progresses.
If you do test positive, your provider may suggest that you contact another healthcare provider, a liver doctor, who is skilled in managing people with hepatitis B infections. You may have a high viral load and may need treatment during the last 3 months of your pregnancy. A viral load is the term for how much of the infection you have inside of you.
You can prevent your infant from getting hepatitis B infection by making sure that your baby gets the hepatitis B vaccine in the hours after they are born along with the hepatitis B immunoglobulin. These two shots are given in two different locations on the baby. They are the first shots needed.
Depending on the type of vaccine used, two or three more doses must be given, usually when the baby is 1 month old and then 6 months old, with the last by the time the baby is 1 year old. It is critical that all newborns get the hepatitis B vaccination, but even more important if you have hepatitis B yourself.
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Are Hepatitis B Tests Accurate
According to the FDA , home tests can help detect health conditions when people do not have symptoms. However, at-home testing should not replace a doctors visit.
Individuals should also purchase tests from companies that collaborate with CLIA-certified labs. This ensures that manufacturers regulate laboratory testing.
The HBF suggests that people get a printed copy of their blood test results so they can discuss them with a doctor and learn more about the condition.