Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test
A hepatitis B surface antigen test shows if you have an active infection. A positive result means you have hepatitis B and can transmit the virus to others. 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 state of a hepatitis B infection.
What Occupations Have Increased Risk Of Hepatitis B
In general, occupational groups with increased risk include:
- Health-care workers repeatedly exposed to blood or blood products or those who are at risk of needlestick injury.
- Pathologists, laboratory personnel, or embalmers.
- Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists.
- Certain staff members of institutions for the developmentally handicapped.
- Staff of institutions where workers may be exposed to aggressive, biting residents.
Travellers to regions with intermediate or high rates of endemic HBV infection may also consider being vaccinated.
How Will I Know If An Individual Is Cured Of Hepatitis B
Not all patients with hepatitis B require treatment, which is generally used in more advanced disease. There are multiple anti-viral agents currently available that are effective in controlling the infection. Your physician will determine if you are a candidate for treatment, and if so, with which agent. Although a commercially available drug is not yet available to cure hepatitis B, researchers in Australia are currently studying an anticancer drug, birinapant. The drug is in clinical trials to determine its potential ability to cure hepatitis B.
Individuals that get infected with HBV and do not remain chronically infected can become HBsAg-negative about 15 weeks after onset of symptoms. However, patients are advised to consult their physician to interpret the results of HBV blood tests. The majority of adults recover from hepatitis B after several months they become non-contagious and are considered to be cured. Unfortunately, about 2% of adults and more than 90% of children under age 1 do not clear the infection and develop chronic hepatitis B infection. For this reason, HBV vaccine is urged for all infants and for individuals that are exposed to hepatitis B and have not been vaccinated.
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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 .
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How Is Hepatitis B Transmitted
Hepatitis B is spread in several distinct ways: sexual contact sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment or from mother-to-child at birth.
In the United States, in 2018, injection drug use was the most common risk factor reported among people with an acute HBV infection, followed by having multiple sex partners. Less commonly reported risk factors included accidental needle sticks, surgery, transfusions, and household contact with a person with HBV infection. In the United States, healthcare-related transmission of HBV is rare.
Mother-to-child transmission of HBV is especially concerning, because it is preventable. An estimated 25,000 infants are born to mothers diagnosed with HBV each year in the United States, and approximately 1,000 mothers transmit HBV to their infants. Without appropriate medical care and vaccinations, 90% of HBV-infected newborns will develop chronic infection, remaining infected throughout their lives. Up to 25% of people infected at birth will die prematurely of HBV-related causes. For this reason, the standard of care for pregnant women includes an HBV test during each pregnancy so that the appropriate steps can be taken to prevent HBV-positive mothers from transmitting the disease to her infant.
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Hepatitis B: Symptoms Causes And Treatment Options
Hepatitis B refers to the inflammation of the liver, often caused by a viral infection. However, there are many other possible causes of hepatitis. These include hepatitis caused by secondary results of drugs, medications, alcohol, and toxin. If a persons body makes antibodies against the liver tissue, it can also lead to autoimmune hepatitis.
According to an estimate by the WHO, over 356 million people worldwide currently live with chronic hepatitis. Most adults suffer from acute hepatitis B, which lasts a short time. However, CDC reveals that about 3-7% of people develop a chronic infection that can cause liver failure, cancer, and scarring of the organ, which can be life-threatening, especially for those with compromised immune systems.
Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis B
People are more likely to get hepatitis B if they are born to a mother who has hepatitis B. The virus can spread from mother to child during birth. For this reason, people are more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- were born in a part of the world where 2 percent or more of the population has hepatitis B infection
- were born in the United States, didnt receive the hepatitis B vaccine as an infant, and have parents who were born in an area where 8 percent or more of the population had hepatitis B infection
People are also more likely to have hepatitis B if they
- are infected with HIV, because hepatitis B and HIV spread in similar ways
- have lived with or had sex with someone who has hepatitis B
- have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
- are men who have sex with men
- are injection drug users
- work in a profession, such as health care, in which they have contact with blood, needles, or body fluids at work
- live or work in a care facility for people with developmental disabilities
- have been on kidney dialysis
- live or work in a prison
- had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before the mid-1980s
In the United States, hepatitis B spreads among adults mainly through contact with infected blood through the skin, such as during injection drug use, and through sexual contact.12
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What Is Hepatitis B Virus
Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is a major global health problem and the most serious type of viral hepatitis. It can cause chronic liver disease and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
Worldwide, an estimated two billion people have been infected with the HBV and about 250 million have chronic liver infections.A vaccine to prevent catching HBV has been available since 1982. Hepatitis B vaccine is 95% effective in preventing HBV infection and its chronic consequences, and is the first vaccine against a major human cancer.
Complications Of Hepatitis B
A small proportion of people who become infected with the hepatitis B virus develop a long-term hepatitis B infection. They may have the virus in their bloodstream for most of their life without realising they are infected.
People with chronic hepatitis B infection may not notice any health problems until they develop liver problems such as liver disease or liver cancer later in life. Treatment for hepatitis B is essential because it is not possible to be a healthy carrier of the hepatitis B virus. Chronic hepatitis B infection occurs more commonly in some communities, including:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- In people from parts of the world where hepatitis B is more common, such as:
- North-East Asia
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Abdominal And Leg Swelling
Among the many roles your liver plays, it receives blood from your intestines and spleen. But when cirrhosis occurs, the flow of blood to your liver slows dramatically and begins to back up in the portal vein, which connects the intestines to the liver. This is known as portal hypertension.
In turn, portal hypertension causes the blood to divert to smaller veins, and eventually, the increased pressure in these veins can cause them to burst or leak. Leakage from your veins into your stomach or lower extremities is known as ascites, and it is one of the most common symptoms of cirrhosis, according to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. There can be fluid in your belly that is caused by a backup of blood from your intestines that cant go through to the liver, says Dr. de Jong. Essentially, the increased pressure on your veins causes leakage of fluid around intestines and it can feeling like swollen belly.
Chronic Hepatitis B Symptoms Are Similar To Acute Hepatitis B Symptoms
Like acute hepatitis B, chronic infection usually causes no symptoms in most adults. In fact, people can live for decades with chronic hepatitis B and not know it. If symptoms do develop, they are very similar to the symptoms of acute hepatitis B. Symptoms with chronic infection is often a sign of serious liver disease, such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B will eventually become fatal in about 15% of adults who develop it.
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Who Gets Skin Changes Related To Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis due to hepatotrophic viruses can be divided into acute and chronic forms.
- Acute viral hepatitis
Skin changes are found in up to 17% of HCV-positive patients.
HDV is usually a co-infection in patients with chronic HBV accelerating progression to early liver failure.
HEV is the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis worldwide, although it is often asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic with jaundice following a prodromal phase. It can progress to chronic infection in immunocompromised patients.
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What Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It can cause long lasting liver damage.
Hepatitis B can be acute or chronic. If a person has acute hepatitis B, the virus makes them sick for a short time , then their body clears the virus and they recover.
If the infection last for more than 6 months, it is called chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis is a lifelong illness.
Vaccination can prevent hepatitis B.
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What Are Signs Of Hepatitis B
When you first get hepatitis B, it is called acutehepatitis B. Most adults who have hepatitis B willrecover on their own. However, children and someadults can develop chronic hepatitis B.
Acute hepatitis B: Signs of acute hepatitis B canappear within 3 months after you get the virus.These signs may last from several weeks to 6 months.Up to 50% of adults have signs of acute hepatitis Bvirus infection. Many young children do not show anysigns. Signs include:
- Yellow skin or eyes
- A longer than normal amount of time for bleedingto stop
What If Im Pregnant And Have Hepatitis B
Pregnant woman with hepatitis B can pass the virus on to their unborn baby. This is why women are tested for hepatitis B as part of prenatal care. In almost all cases, an infection can be prevented if the infant receives the recommended vaccinations in time.
Infants infected at birth are more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B and go on to develop liver complications. Its important to talk to your doctor if you have any questions and follow any advice they give.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hbv
Hepatitis B virus can cause an acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes , dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Most of the time HBV infection is ASYMPTOMATIC.
Joint pains, muscle aches, rash, and jaundice may occur in some people. People can take several months to a year to recover from the symptoms. These people may not know that they are infected, and may therefore not go and see a doctor. People with chronic hepatitis B infection may later develop serious problems like liver cancer and liver failure. These people may not know that they are infected, and may therefore not go and see a doctor. People with chronic hepatitis B infection may later develop serious problems like liver cancer and liver failure.
How Do Doctors Treat The Complications Of Hepatitis B
If chronic hepatitis B leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, minor medical procedures, and surgery. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer.
If chronic hepatitis B leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
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Treating Hepatitis C Treats A Hepatitis Rash
Treating hepatitis C is often the only thing needed to clear up a rash associated with hepatitis C.
Previously, people were treated with interferon and another antiviral called ribavirin. The treatment combination has significant side effects, including skin rashes.
Therefore, newer agents called direct-acting antivirals are recommended. These newer agents are very well tolerated and have fewer side effects. Speaking with a healthcare provider to determine which therapies are best for you is essential.
Who Should Be Tested For Hepatitis
It is important to test people with symptoms or exposure to hepatitis as well as people at high risk such as illicit drug users and people with multiple sex partners. There is a high prevalence of chronic hepatitis individuals of Asian heritage, and they also should be tested. It is estimated the 10% of Asians living in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis that probably has been present from birth.
Although hepatitis is most commonly the result of an infection, other factors can cause the condition.
Alcohol and other toxins
The alcohol directly injures the cells of your liver. Over time, it can cause permanent damage and lead to thickening or scarring of liver tissue and liver failure.
Other toxic causes of hepatitis include misuse of medications and exposure to toxins.
Autoimmune system response
In some cases, the immune system mistakes the liver as harmful and attacks it. This causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe, often hindering liver function. ItÃ¢s three times more common in women than in men.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms listed, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C.
Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C
None of these symptoms mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but its important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if theres a risk youre infected, even if you dont have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about whos at risk of having the infection.
Page last reviewed: 27 October 2021 Next review due: 27 October 2024
How You Can Get Hepatitis B
You can get hepatitis B from:
- injecting drugs using shared needles
- being injured by a used needle
- having a tattoo or piercing with unsterilised equipment
- having a blood transfusion in a country that does not check blood for hepatitis B. Blood transfusions in the UK are checked for hepatitis B.
If you’re pregnant and have hepatitis B, you can also pass it onto your baby during pregnancy or birth.
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Understanding Changes In Biomarkers During Disease Progression
Understanding the changes in HBV biomarkers over the course of a persons infection and recovery is key to interpreting the test results. Figure 3-1 and Figure 3-2 depict the typical biomarker changes over the course of hepatitis B disease.
Figure 3-1. Typical serologic course of acute hepatitis B to recovery
Acute, resolved, and chronic hepatitis BApproximately 90% of people > 5 years of age with acute hepatitis B will spontaneously clear their infection . People with resolved hepatitis B will remain positive for total anti-HBc and develop anti-HBs that protect against future HBV infection . Chronic hepatitis B is defined as an HBV infection lasting > 6 months. During the typical course of chronic infection, the total anti-HBc and HBsAg markers will always be present, whereas anti-HBc IgM will disappear . Hepatitis B e antigen and hepatitis B e antibody are variably present. HBV DNA levels vary during the course of chronic infection. Any detectable HBV DNA level is considered positive for surveillance purposes.
HBV-infected people with mutations in HBsAg that cannot be detected by current serologic assays may present with a negative HBsAg result despite high blood levels of HBV DNA. Some laboratories have the capacity to detect HBsAg mutants. Any HD interested in determining which laboratories can detect HBsAg mutants should follow-up with the major laboratories that perform HBsAg testing in their jurisdiction.