Hepatitis B is a liver infection that develops when a person contracts the hepatitis B virus (HBV) 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.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source explain that not all people with hepatitis B have symptoms. However, those who do may experience:
Those who have long-term hepatitis B can develop liver cancer or cirrhosis.
Types of hepatitis B tests
There are three types of blood tests for hepatitis B:
Hepatitis B surface antigen test
This test checks whether a person has contracted the virus. A positive result indicates that they have hepatitis B and can spread it to others.Further testing will be necessary to determine whether the HBV infection is acute or chronic.People under the age of 6 who test positive for hepatitis B are more likely to develop a chronic infection. In contrast, those who are older may recover completely.A person who does not have the virus will receive a negative result.
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 (HBF), people who are immune to HBV cannot contract the virus from other people or contaminated areas and therefore cannot spread HBV to others.
Hepatitis B core antibody test
This test checks whether a person currently has HBV or had it in the past. A positive result means that they have a current or past infection. It can also mean that they are recovering from acute hepatitis B.Those who receive a positive result should contact a doctor to check the status of their hepatitis B infection.
Who should take the test?
People should seek out HBV screening if they:
are living with HIV
have end stage renal disease
need immunosuppressive therapy
use injection drugs
are male and have sex with other males
have sex with individuals living with HBV
share a household with someone living with HBV
come from a region with a high incidence of HBV