Understanding Your Test Results
Understanding your hepatitis B blood tests can be confusing. It is important to talk to your health care provider so you understand your test results and your hepatitis B status. Are you infected? Protected? Or at risk? The Hepatitis B Panel of blood tests includes 3 tests and all three results must be known in order to confirm your status.
Below is a chart with the most common explanation of the test results, but unusual test results can occur. Please note that this chart is not intended as medical advice, so be sure to talk to your health care provider for a full explanation and obtain a printed copy of your test results. In some cases, a person could be referred to a liver specialist for further evaluation.
More Detailed Information About Hepatitis B Blood Tests
An acute hepatitis B infection follows a relatively long incubation period – from 60 to 150 days with an average of 90 days. It can take up to six months, however, for a person to get rid of the hepatitis B virus. And it can take up to six months for a hepatitis B blood test to show whether as person has recovered from an acute infection or has become chronically infected .
The following graphic from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention represents the typical course of an acute hepatitis B infection from first exposure to recovery.
According to the CDC, a hepatitis B blood test result varies depending on whether the infection is a new acute infection or a chronic infection.
What Happens During A Hepatitis Panel
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
At-home testing kits are available for hepatitis B and C. Usually the test kit will include a sharp device, to prick your finger so you can collect a drop of blood to send to a lab for testing. For more information on at-home testing for hepatitis, talk to your provider.
Integration Is Essential In Providing Patient
Program integration is the bedrock of Nasarawas journey to HCV elimination. The Nasarawa State Elimination program is employing a model that ensures easy access by communities in need. These include:
- Timely testing to ensure patients know their status and are initiated on treatment as soon as possible.
- Integrating HCV testing on seven out of 19 GeneXpert devices used for tuberculosis testing in the state.
- Leveraging existing tuberculosis sample transportation networks to ensure that patients do not have to travel or wait for long turnaround times to know their status.
- Implementing multi-month dispensing to minimize loss-to-follow-up meaning that all patients are successfully linked to care and complete their treatment doses while minimizing multiple facility visits.
A patient recently commented that when I tested positive for hepatitis, I was worried because I could not afford the treatment. Thanks to the Nasarawa state government for providing free hepatitis services.
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How Much Does The Test Cost
The cost of hepatitis B testing depends on the tests that are performed, where the test is conducted, and a patientâs health insurance coverage. When testing is ordered by a doctor, patients with health insurance may find it helpful to discuss the cost of testing with their health insurance company as they may be responsible for testing costs as well as other out-of-pocket costs such as copays and deductibles.
For patients without health insurance or for whom insurance doesnât cover the cost of testing, it may be helpful to discuss the cost of hepatitis B testing with a doctor or hospital administrator.
The cost of at-home hepatitis B testing starts around $45. At-home test kits may also test for additional types of viral hepatitis in the same sample. The cost of test panels that look for more than one type of viral hepatitis start around $80.
What If I Have Symptoms Of Viral Hepatitis
If you have symptoms or signs of viral hepatitis, your health care provider can perform a blood test to check for the presence of an antibody. If you have hepatitis B or C, more blood samples may be necessary later — even if the symptoms have vanished — to check for complications and determine if you have progressed from acute to chronic disease. Most people have vague or no symptoms at all hence, viral hepatitis is often referred to as a silent disease.
Your healthcare provider may also require a liverbiopsy, or tissue sample, in order to determine the extent of the damage. A biopsy is commonly performed by inserting a needle into the liver and drawing out a fragment of tissue, which is then sent to a lab to be analyzed.
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What To Expect From Your Doctor
Hep B can be very complex and not every doctor has a good understanding of it. You can check our directoryfor a hep B specialist doctor or use our resources to help you and your doctor through hep B testing.
Your doctor might ask you about your family history of hep B or liver disease, where you were born, and any other possible exposures to hep B such as unprotected sex or injecting drug use.
You can tell your doctor as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. More information can help your doctor make the best decisions for your health, but what you share with them is up to you.
You might be able to access healthcare via your computer or phone.
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:
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What Are The Different Types Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be acute or chronic. How long you experience symptoms will depend on the type you have.
Acute hepatitis C involves more short-term symptoms that typically last 6 months or less but acute hepatitis often leads to chronic hepatitis. When hepatitis C lasts longer than 6 months, its considered chronic.
Without treatment, you may have chronic hepatitis your whole life, since your body often cant get rid of the virus easily. Some people do get better without treatment, although treatment can go a long way toward improving the outlook.
Hepatitis C wont necessarily become chronic.
As a matter of fact, for anywhere from 15 to 45 percent of people with acute hepatitis C, the virus will clear up without treatment. In other words, if you dont have any symptoms, hepatitis C could improve on its own before you ever know you have it.
However, if your body cant get rid of the hepatitis C virus, the infection wont go away. Instead, it will become chronic, or long-term.
Experts arent sure why some people develop the chronic form of the disease and others dont. But more than half of all people with the hepatitis C virus will eventually develop the chronic form, according to the
Since hepatitis C symptoms can resemble those of other health conditions, your symptoms alone if you have any may not make it clear that you have hepatitis C.
A doctor or other healthcare professional may recommend getting tested if you:
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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.
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What Are The Most Common Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
It sounds strange, but there really are no symptoms of hep C. In fact, about half of people with hep C dont even know theyre infected, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Those who do have symptoms may experience minor issues like fatigue and muscle aches, which can be chalked up to any number of reasons, like an intense workout or just life in general. But because these symptoms are so ubiquitous, theyre easy to miss, and you likely wouldnt associate them with hep C.
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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 Can You Prevent Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C
Hepatitis B: Vaccination is the best way to prevent all of the ways that hepatitis B is transmitted. People with HIV who do not have active HBV infection should be vaccinated against it. In addition to the 3-dose series of hepatitis B vaccine given over 6 months, as of 2017, there is a 2-dose series given over 1 month.
Hepatitis C: No vaccine exists for HCV and no effective pre- or postexposure prophylaxis is available. The best way to prevent hepatitis C infection is to never inject drugs or to stop injecting drugs by getting into and staying in drug treatment. If you continue injecting drugs, always use new, sterile needles or syringes, and never reuse or share needles or syringes, water, or other drug preparation equipment.
What Does The Test Measure
Hepatitis B testing looks for antigens, antibodies, or the genetic material of the hepatitis B virus. HBV antigens are substances from the virus that cause a patientâs body to produce an immune response. Antibodies are substances made by the immune system in response to the hepatitis B virus.
Initial tests for hepatitis B measure antibodies and antigens related to HBV including:
If a patient is diagnosed with hepatitis B based on these initial tests, additional hepatitis B testing may be used to monitor the disease, guide treatment, and determine if a person can spread hepatitis B to others. These additional tests may include:
- Hepatitis B e antigen : Hepatitis B e antigen is a protein from the hepatitis B virus found in some patients who are positive for hepatitis B surface antigen. Measuring this antigen can help doctors understand infectivity, which describes a personâs ability to spread HBV to others.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis B And C
In most patients, hepatitis B develops slowly over the course of several decades, and thus most patients have no symptoms. People who have advanced liver disease such as cirrhosis of the liver may experience complications and symptoms that reflect liver failure. Other symptoms include:
- A buildup of fluid within the abdominal cavity
- Confusion and tremors , which are complications due to the inability of the liver to filter out toxins that are normally cleaned out by a healthy liver
- Vomiting of blood, or blood within the stool . This is a complication in which enlarged veins within the esophagus or stomach bleed as a consequence of increased pressure around the diseased liver.
Most patients with chronic hepatitis C infection report no symptoms. But some patients may have very nonspecific symptoms related to fatigue and discomfort on the right side of the abdomen. Often, symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of hepatitis C are noticeable only at the end stage of liver disease, when the patient has developed liver cirrhosis and liver failure.
Because hepatitis B and C typically have no specific symptoms, many people who have the viruses dont even know it.
What Is Causing The Recent Hepatitis Clusters
Hepatitis can have many causes, from autoimmune disease to side effects of certain medications. Most often, it is caused by one of the five hepatitis viruses . Depending on the type, viral hepatitis can spread through contact with blood and other bodily fluids or fecal matter, or by consuming raw or undercooked meats. But viral hepatitis has been ruled out in the recent pediatric clusters in the United States and abroad.
Instead, the C.D.C. suspects that the adenovirus is causing the current cases, though health officials caution that the investigation is ongoing. There are more than 50 types of adenoviruses, which tend to cause mild illness, such as colds and fevers, pink eye or vomiting and diarrhea.
In Alabama, all nine children tested positive for adenovirus. And of the five cases that were genetically sequenced, all had adenovirus type 41, which typically causes vomiting and diarrhea. A majority of the affected children in Britain, though not all, tested positive for adenovirus as well.
Its interesting that were really only seeing this in children less than 10 years, meaning that most people over 10 have immunity to adenovirus, and that may be why this hepatitis is showing up in young children, said Dr. Jennifer Lighter, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist and hospital epidemiologist with N.Y.U. Langone Health in New York City.
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How Do We Test For Hepatitis B
The FDA-approved hepatitis B virus test looks for surface antigens to determine if you have hepatitis B. . Surface antigens are the first signs of acute infection, but they are also present in chronic infections.
Finding a hepatitis B infection early is extremely beneficial for avoiding liver health complications.
If the HBV test returns a positive result, a second confirmation test is performed at no extra charge to ensure that you receive the most accurate results possible. The accuracy of laboratory testing is measured in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Our HBV test has an 88% sensitivity rate and a 99-100% specificity rate.
Identifying Patterns Of Risky Behavior
Screening is an opportunity to draw attention to the clients behaviors that put him or her at risk for contracting :
- Ask for the clients perception of his or her risk for having contracted : How likely do you think it is that the test will be positive?
- Listen for and identify behaviors that put the client at risk for contracting , B, and C and HIV, especially unprotected sex and sharing injection drug paraphernalia.
- Assess the clients alcohol consumption.
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How Are Hepatitis B And C Treated
Hepatitis B: Not all patients with chronic hepatitis B infection require treatment. At Yale Medicine, specialists decide on an individual basis whether a patient is an appropriate candidate for treatment. Generally, patients require treatment when their hepatitis B virus level is high, and when laboratory tests demonstrate significant inflammation or injury to the liver.
There are currently seven approved drugs for hepatitis B, two of which are considered to be first-line treatments. These drugs are oral pills taken once daily, and while they’re very effective at suppressing the virus to very low or undetectable levels over the long term, they are not considered curative.
Therefore, the goal of treatment is to control the virus long-term and decrease the risk of hepatitis B related complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis C: For the greater part of the last 20 years, treatment of hepatitis C required the use of a chemotherapy-like injection drug called interferon, which has been associated with serious side effects and a low cure rate. Fortunately, advances in hepatitis C treatments within the last three years now allow for the use of oral medications that are significant improvements in terms of safety and effectiveness.