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.
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.
What Is A Hepatitis Panel 4
A hepatitis panel includes tests for hepatitis antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are proteins that the immune system produces to help fight infections. Antigens are substances that cause an immune response. Antibodies and antigens can be detected before symptoms appear.
Similarly, how long does a hepatitis panel take? Normal results are negative, meaning you don’t have the HBsAg antigen in your blood. The HBsAgis usually found if you have either acute or chronic infection. It usually shows up 2 to 6 weeks after you are exposed to the virus.
One may also ask, what blood tests are done for hepatitis?
The hepatitis virus panel is a series of blood tests used to detect current or past infection by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. It can screen blood samples for more than one kind of hepatitis virus at the same time. Antibody and antigen tests can detect each of the different hepatitis viruses.
How much is a hepatitis blood test?
Results. The estimated cost per true positive IDU who returned for test results was $54. The cost-effectiveness of expanding HCV CTR to non-IDU subgroups ranged from $179 to $2,986. Our estimates were most sensitive to variations in HCV prevalence, the cost of testing, and the rate of client return.
A hepatitis panel typically includes:
- Hepatitis A antibody, IgM.
- Hepatitis B tesing: Hepatitis B core antibody, IgM and Hepatitis B surface Ag.
- Hepatitis C antibody.
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When Is It Ordered
An acute viral hepatitis panel may be ordered when a person has had blood tests done as part of a health checkup that show abnormal results on liver tests or when someone has acute symptoms associated with liver damage, such as:
- Fever, fatigue
The acute viral hepatitis panel may sometimes be used to screen people when they are at an increased risk for hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection or when it is known that they have been exposed. Below are listed some examples of who may be screened using the panel:
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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Hepatitis B Test Results
- HBV surface antigen means you are currently infected with HBV. This may be a new or chronic infection.
- Antibody to HBV core antigen means you have been infected with HBV. This is the first antibody to appear after infection.
- Antibody to HBV surface antigen means you have been vaccinated for or infected with hepatitis B.
- HBV type e antigen means you have HBV and are currently contagious.
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.
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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.
What Is The Significance Of The Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel Result
The significance and interpretation of Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel is explained:
- A negative result indicates that there are no hepatitis antibodies present, or the levels are too low to be detected by the test. The test may be repeated after 2-8 weeks, to clear any suspicion since the antibodies may develop over a period of time
- A positive result is interpreted as an acute infection, a chronic active infection, recovery from a past infection, or effective immunity from immunization, depending on the result of the test. However, clinical correlation by the healthcare provider is necessary
- A positive test result is usually followed-up by more specific procedures, to diagnose the infection present
- It is to be noted that there is a possibility of infection with more than one virus. A superimposed infection may occur in chronic cases of hepatitis, with other hepatitis viruses too. In such cases, the results may be positive for more than one virus type
For hepatitis A infection:
- A positive result for IgM hepatitis A antibodies indicates a recent infection with hepatitis A virus
- A positive result for total HAV antibodies indicates a previous or past infection, or effective immunization against HAV
For hepatitis B infection:
For hepatitis C infection:
- A positive result for hepatitis C virus antibody denotes a current or past hepatitis C infection
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Can Hepatitis Patients Spread The Infection To Others
Patients can spread hepatitis infection and the spread depends on the type and stage of the hepatitis infection. Those suffering from viral hepatitis can easily spread the infection even while being asymptomatic. Those with hepatitis A can spread the infection from the time they are infected. Those with hepatitis B are contagious as long as the virus is present in the blood. Those with hepatitis C infection are contagious and can transmit the infection.
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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Are Test Results Accurate
Although an acute viral hepatitis panel is a standard panel used to detect evidence of viral hepatitis, in many cases it provides only preliminary results. For patients who have abnormal results on the hepatitis B or C portions of this panel, additional testing is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
The Results Of My Hepatitis Panel Came Back Negative What Other Conditions Can Cause Similar Symptoms
Hepatitis can be caused by several different factors and conditions such as alcohol, drugs like acetaminophen, or inherited disorders. There are a few other viral infections that may cause similar symptoms, such as cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus . An autoimmune disease is another possibility your healthcare provider may need to consider if your hepatitis panel is negative. Typically, additional tests will be performed to help determine the cause of your condition.
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What Is The Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel Test
- The Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel is a series of blood tests performed to determine current or past infection by most the common types of hepatitis viruses – hepatitis A, B, or C
- The series of blood tests can simultaneously test for more than one type of the hepatitis virus. Once a diagnosis is established, then a specific hepatitis test is ordered. Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, are the 5 main types of viruses causing hepatitis
- During hepatitis, the liver is inflamed and enlarged. There can be many causes of hepatitis, such as viruses, drugs, autoimmune diseases, toxins, etc. All cases of acute hepatitis usually presents with the same set of signs and symptoms
- Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel is ordered to determine hepatitis virus infection and its type, in cases, where risk factors for infection are present, or where there is a possibility of exposure to the virus
The Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel includes the following tests:
What Other Laboratory Tests Might My Healthcare Practitioner Perform
In addition to tests for hepatitis viruses, your healthcare practitioner may choose to run tests to see how your liver has been affected. These may include a liver panel or individual liver enzyme tests such as aspartate aminotransferase , alanine aminotransferase , and alkaline phosphatase . Your healthcare practitioner may also run a test for bilirubin and a prothrombin time , which can help determine if there is liver damage.
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How The Test Is Performed
Blood is most often drawn from a vein from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine . The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed. The puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
The blood sample is sent to a lab to be examined. Blood tests are used to check for antibodies to each of the hepatitis viruses.
How Do I Get Ready For This Test
You don’t need to prepare for this test. But talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for hepatitis infection. In addition, be sure your provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don’t need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.
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Preparing Clients For Screening
Once clients are comfortable talking about viral , they might be more willing to undergo screening. However, clients might be anxious about the test itself a reassurance that testing is a simple procedure can help allay these concerns. Many substance use treatment facilities do not offer screening, and clients might need to be referred elsewhere. The following strategies can enhance the discussion of the hepatitis screening process and hepatitis prevention:
Why The Test Is Performed
Your provider may order this test if you have signs of hepatitis. It is used to:
- Detect current or previous hepatitis infection
- Determine how contagious a person with hepatitis is
- Monitor a person who is being treated for hepatitis
The test may be performed for other conditions, such as:
- Chronic persistent hepatitis
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When Should I Get An Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel
An acute viral hepatitis panel may be recommended when a patient has symptoms of hepatitis, or if a person has a suspected or known exposure to a hepatitis virus. Although some patients with hepatitis have no symptoms, when present symptoms may include:
- Clay-colored bowel movements
Patients that have an acute hepatitis infection may begin to experience symptoms between 2 weeks and 6 months after becoming infected. Patients with a chronic hepatitis infection may not experience symptoms until many years after infection.
Doctors may also recommend an acute viral hepatitis panel in patients with abnormal results on tests that evaluate liver function, such as a liver panel.
What Is Being Tested
Hepatitis is an inflammation and enlargement of the liver. One of the most common causes of acute hepatitis is infection with a hepatitis virus, usually hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. An acute viral hepatitis panel is a group of blood tests often performed together to help diagnose viral hepatitis. Some of the tests detect antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the infection and one detects proteins that indicate the presence of the virus.
A hepatitis panel typically includes:
See “How is the test used?” under Common Questions below for more details.
If acute symptoms are suspected to be caused by one of the hepatitis viruses or if someone is at an increased risk of being infected or has been exposed, then a hepatitis panel can help determine if the person has been infected and which virus is present.
Hepatitis A virus is highly contagious and is usually contracted by ingesting food or water contaminated with the virus or by coming in contact with an infected person. While hepatitis A infections are usually mild, the virus can on rare occasions cause a severe, acute disease. Hepatitis A does not cause a chronic infection, as do hepatitis B and C. A vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis A.
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Summary Table: Most Common Causes Of Viral Hepatitis
PreventionThe incidence of new cases of viral hepatitis has decreased due to use of safer injection and sex practices and the availability of vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B . Screening units of blood for hepatitis B and C has virtually eliminated infections through blood transfusions. A systematic program to screen pregnant mothers for hepatitis B and to vaccinate all newborns has greatly decreased new cases of hepatitis B.
TreatmentHepatitis ASupport and symptom relief are frequently the only treatments required for acute hepatitis A. This usually involves plenty of rest, fluids, and nutritious food. With hepatitis A, most people recover without complications.
Hepatitis BManagement of acute hepatitis B is primarily supportive and usually involves plenty or rest and fluids and good nutrition. For those who progress to the chronic form of hepatitis B, management goals include minimizing further damage to the liver, treating underlying conditions that are causing or exacerbating the condition, and preventing transmission of the virus. There are medications available to treat chronic hepatitis B, but not all people need to be treated. People with chronic hepatitis are closely monitored for the development of liver cirrhosis or cancer.