Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test
A hepatitis B surface antigen test shows if youre contagious. A positive result means you have hepatitis B and can spread the virus. A negative result means you dont currently have hepatitis B. This test doesnt distinguish between chronic and acute infection. This test is used together with other hepatitis B tests to determine the .
How Is Hepatitis B Spread
You can become infected with hepatitis B through exposure to blood, semen and other bodily fluids of an infected person. You can get the infection by:
- Having unprotected sex.
- Sharing or using dirty needles for drug use, tattoos or piercing.
- Sharing everyday items that may contain body fluids, including razors, toothbrushes, jewelry for piercings and nail clippers.
- Being treated medically by someone who does not use sterile instruments.
- Being bitten by someone with the infection.
- Being born to a pregnant woman with the infection.
Hepatitis B is not spread by:
- Kissing on the cheek or lips.
- Coughing or sneezing.
- Hugging, shaking hands or holding hands.
- Eating food that someone with the infection has prepared.
Will It Affect My Partner/s
If you have hepatitis A: Your partner/s should be immunised for prevention. You should avoid anal sex until you are better.
If you have hepatitis B: Free immunisation is available for household and sexual contacts of people known to carry hepatitis B. If your partner is not immunised, you should always use a condom. Protection is offered to babies on the immunisation schedule and to children under 16 years.
If you have hepatitis C: Anyone youve had sex with, or shared a needle with can have a blood test to check for hepatitis C antibodies.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.
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What Is The Outlook For People With Hepatitis B
The outlook for people with HBV is better now than ever before. You are certainly able to live a full life and help yourself stay healthy. You should make sure to have regular check-ups with a healthcare provider who is qualified to treat hepatitis B, possibly a liver doctor.
Make sure you are vaccinated against hepatitis A. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking other medications or over-the-counter products, including supplements and natural products. These could interfere with your medication or damage your liver. For instance, taking acetaminophen in large doses may harm your liver.
Follow the usual guidelines for living a healthy life:
- Eat nutritious foods, choosing from a variety of vegetables, fruits and healthy proteins. It is said that cruciferous vegetables are especially good at protecting the liver.
- Exercise regularly.
- Dont smoke and dont drink. Both tobacco and alcohol are bad for your liver.
- Do things that help you cope with stress, like journaling, talking with others, meditating and doing yoga.
- Avoid inhaling toxic fumes.
How Is It Treated
To recover, you should eat a well-balanced, low fat diet, and make sure you rest and get some exercise. It is best to avoid alcohol and drugs, as well as sexual contact, until you are better. If you are using any other medicines, check with your doctor that they dont affect your liver.
There are vaccines available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These stop you getting the infection if the first place.
There are now some antiviral treatments for hepatitis C, so talk to your doctor about these.
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How Can You Avoid Hepatitis B
Getting the vaccine for hepatitis B is the best way toprevent hepatitis B. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe andeffective. It is usually given as 3-4 shots over a 6-monthperiod. You will not get hepatitis B from the vaccine.Ask your health care provider if you should get thisvaccine. It is recommended for:
- All infants, starting with the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth
- Everyone under the age of 19 who has not been vaccinated
- People whose sex partners have hepatitis B
- Sexually active people who are not in a long-term, faithful relationship
- People with a sexually transmitted disease
- People who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
- People who have close household contact with someone infected with the hepatitis B virus
- Health care and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or body fluids on the job
- People with kidney disease. This includes all those on dialysis and those being considered for dialysis.
- Adults with diabetes
- Before anal sex
- Before oral sex
- Have sex with only one partner who does not have sex with others and does not have hepatitis B.
- Sterile tools
For more information, see Safer Sex.
Hepatitis A And Safe Sex
Hepatitis A is most often contracted through eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Contact with feces of an infected person through sexual activity, including anal sex or oral-anal activity, can result in the spread of hepatitis A to a sexual partner. Even a condom may not be protective, because handling a contaminated condom may lead to spread of the virus onto hands and into the mouth.
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Hepatitis B And Sexual Activity
If hepatitis B is sexually transmitted, why doesnt my spouse or partner have it?
Hepatitis is spread through blood, semen and other bodily fluids and can be contracted through unprotected sexual contact with someone who has the virus. However transmission depends on the type of sexual activity and the viral load of the infected partner.
Semen, vaginal fluids and blood all contain the hepatitis B virus . The higher the viral load, the more infectious these fluids are. However, having a low viral load doesnt mean you wont infect someone during unprotected sexual intercourse. A man with an undetectable viral load, for example, can still spread infection as his semen will contain HBV.
In heterosexual relationships, women are at higher risk of infection through unprotected sex than men, because theyre on the receiving end of semen. A man having unprotected sex with a woman with hepatitis B is at risk through contact with vaginal secretions, but the risk is lower.
Types of sexual activity
Some sexual activities come with a higher risk of hepatitis B transmission. Anal sex, for example, carries a very high risk due to tears in the skin that can occur during penetration, while oral sex can have a lower rate of hepatitis B transmission than vaginal sex.
Hepatitis B is often considered a silent infection, because many people with the virus have no symptoms and may not know they have it.
Which Hepatitis Is An Std
Hepatitis A, B, and C can be sexually transmitted.
- Hepatitis A: Although the fecal-oral route is common for hepatitis A, the virus can also be transmitted from any sexual activity. The use of condoms does not effectively prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B: Sexual contact is the most common mode of Hepatitis B transmission in the United States. Compared to HIV, a hepatitis B infection is 50 to 100 times more likely to be transmitted sexually. The transmission risk is higher among unvaccinated people with risk behaviors like having multiple sex partners and men having sex with men .
- Hepatitis C: The Hepatitis C virus may be transmitted via sexual contact. However, studies have shown that such transmission is very rare. A higher rate of sexual transmission of the hepatitis C infection is seen in MSM, especially those who practice unprotected anal intercourse and have an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus .
Recommended Reading: Hepatitis A Curable Or Not
How Hepatitis B Is Spread
The hepatitis B virus is found in the blood and bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluids, of an infected person.
It can be spread:
- from a mother to her newborn baby, particularly in countries where the infection is common
- within families in countries where the infection is common
- by having sex with an infected person without using a condom
- by having a tattoo, body piercing, or medical or dental treatment in an unhygienic environment with unsterilised equipment
Hepatitis B is not spread by kissing, holding hands, hugging, coughing, sneezing or sharing crockery and utensils.
Is There A Cure For Chronic Hepatitis B
Currently, there is no complete cure for hepatitis B. But when managed properly, those living with the virus can expect to live a normal life. Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are crucial components in managing the disease.
You should also visit a doctor familiar with hepatitis B at least annuallythough twice a year might be best to monitor your liver through blood tests and medical imaging. As with most diseases, detecting it early leads to a better outcome. If youre exposed to the virus, you should get an antibody injection within 12 hours of exposure.
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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?
How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed
There are three main ways to diagnose HBV infection. They include:
- Blood tests: Tests of the blood serum shows how your bodys immune system is responding to the virus. A blood test can also tell you if you are immune to HBV.
- Abdominal ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show the size and shape of your liver and how well the blood flows through it.
- Liver biopsy: A small sample of your liver tissue is removed though a tiny incision and sent to a lab for analysis.
The blood test that is used to diagnose hepatitis B is not a test that you get routinely during a medical visit. Often, people whove become infected first learn they have hepatitis B when they go to donate blood. Blood donations are routinely scanned for the infection.
The virus can be detected within 30 to 60 days of infection. About 70% of adults with hepatitis B develop symptoms, which tend to appear an average of 90 days after initial exposure to the virus.
Acute Hepatitis B Infection
There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B, and most people recover within one to two months. Usually, you can manage symptoms at home with painkillers if necessary. Your healthcare professional should advise you to have regular blood tests and physical check-ups. Most people make a full recovery from acute hepatitis B.
Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented
The hepatitis B vaccine is one of the best ways to control the disease. It is safe, effective and widely available. More than one billion doses of the vaccine have been administered globally since 1982. The World Health Organization says the vaccine is 98-100% effective in guarding against the virus. Newborns should be vaccinated.
The disease has also been more widely prevented thanks to:
- Widespread global adoption of safe blood-handling practices. WHO says 97% of the blood donated around the world is now screened for HBV and other diseases.
- Safer blood injection practices, using clean needles.
- Safe-sex practices.
You can help prevent hepatitis B infections by:
- Practicing safe sex .
- Never sharing personal care items like toothbrushes or razors.
- Getting tattoos or piercings only at shops that employ safe hygiene practices.
- Not sharing needles to use drugs.
- Asking your healthcare provider for blood tests to determine if you have HBV or if you are immune.
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Can You Pass Hepatitis C To A Sex Partner
Sex and Sexuality
Yes, but it is not likely. Compared to hepatitis B virus and the human immunodeficiency virus , it is less likely that you will spread the hepatitis C virus to your sex partner.
If you have one long-term sex partner, and one of you has hepatitis C and one of you does not, you do not need to change your sex habits at all. But, if either you or your partner is worried about the small chance of spreading the hepatitis C virus, you can use latex condoms. This will make it almost impossible to spread the virus. Long-term partners of people with hepatitis C should get tested for the virus. If the test is negative, you will probably not need to repeat it.
If you have more than one sex partner, you are more likely to spread the virus. In this case, reduce the number of sex partners you have, practice safer sex, and always use latex condoms.
There have been outbreaks of sexually transmitted HCV infection among men who have HIV and who have sex with men. It is recommended that men who have sex with men use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HCV and other sexually transmitted infections.
How Is It Spread
Hepatitis B virus is spread by contact with body fluidsthat carry the virus, such as:
Hepatitis B is spread by contact with infected body fluids, mostly by:
- Sexual contact:
- Vaginal and anal sex
- Sharing unclean sex toys
- Body fluids with hepatitis B can enter tiny breaks or rips in the linings of the vagina, vulva, rectum,or mouth. Rips and tears in these areas can be common and often unnoticed.
- During illegal drug or drug equipment use
- Open sores of an infected person
- Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
- Being tattooed or pierced with tools that were not properly cleaned
- Hepatitis B can spread to babies during pregnancy and birth.
Infected motherscan pass hepatitisB to their babiesduring childbirth.
Hepatitis B is rarely spread from a blood transfusion because:
- Hepatitis B tests are done on all donated blood.
- Blood and blood products that test positive for hepatitis B are safely destroyed. None are used for transfusions.
- There is no risk of getting hepatitis B when donating or giving blood.
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How Did You Discover That You Were Infected With Hepatitis B
I think I was tested because my mother was having liver issues, and my family comes from a high prevalence country, namely Vietnam, where chronic hepatitis B affects around 20% of the population. In countries with such high levels, people usually get it during birth or through little childhood scratches if they’re not vaccinated. Probably, my mother gave it to me when I was a baby.
Dr Thomas Tu
What Should I Know If Im Dating Someone With Hepatitis C
The primary concern is contracting HCV. Living with a person puts you at risk but only if you come into contact with their blood. The virus is not spread by:
You can contract HCV through sexual contact but the risk is low. Stay informed so you can take proper precautions. This will greatly reduce your risk of contracting HCV.
The more comfortable you feel with the diagnosis and what needs to be done to reduce the possible spread of the virus, the better you will feel when caring for your partner and building a relationship together.
Read Also: Is There Immunization For Hepatitis C
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Hepatitis A Vaccine And International Travel
Who should get the hepatitis A vaccine before traveling internationally?
All unvaccinated people, along with those who have never had hepatitis A, should be vaccinated before traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common. Travelers to urban areas, resorts, and luxury hotels in countries where hepatitis A is common are still at risk. International travelers have been infected, even though they regularly washed their hands and were careful about what they drank and ate. Those who are too young or cant get vaccinated because of a previous, life-threatening reaction to the hepatitis A vaccine or vaccine component should receive immune globulin. Travelers to other countries where hepatitis A does not commonly occur are not recommended to receive hepatitis A vaccine before travel.
How soon before travel should I get the hepatitis A vaccine?
You should get the first dose of hepatitis A vaccine as soon as you plan international travel to a country where hepatitis A is common. The vaccine will provide some protection even if you get vaccinated closer to departure. For older adults , people who are immunocompromised, and people with chronic liver disease or other chronic medical conditions the health-care provider may consider, based on several factors, giving an injection of immune globulin at the same time in different limbs.
What should I do if I am traveling internationally but cannot receive hepatitis A vaccine?