Hepatitis B Testing
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What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B (hep B) is an infection that causes liver failure, scarring and cancer.
Hep B spreads from person to person in bodily fluids, so can be transmitted sexually, via a transfusion of infected blood or during childbirth by an infected mother. As the virus spreads very easily, children may be unaware they are infected – as they often experience no or little symptoms – and pass the virus between each other through their blood.
Testing for hep B
There are three types of tests for hep B, all of which can test the same sample but look for different things. Often, all three tests will be conducted to determine if you have Hep B, but the surface antigen test is the one that determines if you are infected right now.
Surface antigen test
The surface antigen is the live virus in the blood. This test shows whether you have the infection in your blood and can transmit it to others.
Surface antibody test
The surface antibody test looks for surface antibodies, which are created in response to the infection. If your blood contains antibodies, it can mean two things: you have had hep B in the past or you have been vaccinated against it. If you have hep B antibodies in your blood, you cannot be reinfected, and you will not pass the infection onto others.
Core antibodies in your blood indicate infection, but do not indicate successful recovery. Along with a negative surface antibody test, a positive core antibody test could mean that you are infected currently or have been infected previously but have not created enough antibodies to become immune.
If accompanied by a positive surface antibody test, a positive result of this test could mean immunity from hepatitis B.
Can you eat before a hepatitis b blood test?
Yes. You do not need to fast for a hep b blood test.
When can you test for hepatitis B?
The incubation period for hep b can be up to 3 months, but the infection can show up in tests from as little as 1 week. If you suspect infection, get tested. If your result is negative, it is a good idea to wait a few months and get tested again.
What is a hepatitis B core antibody test?
Hep B core antibody tests detect antibodies in your blood that indicate your body has learnt how to kill the infection. A positive result means immunity to hepatitis B.
What does reactive mean on a hepatitis B test?
A reactive result means that you have tested positive for hepatitis B and are infected.
What is the hepatitis B viral load test?
A hep B viral load test measures how much hepatitis B is left in your blood. A higher viral load means you are more contagious and at risk of more severe symptoms.
What does a non reactive hepatitis b test mean?
A non reactive hepatitis B test means you have tested negative and are not infected with the virus. If you receive this result within 3 months of potential infection, get tested again once this time has passed.
What is the test for hepatitis b?
How to test for hepatitis B can be explained to you by your doctor or nurse. Hepatitis B is tested by taking a sample of the blood. An at home test for Hepatitis B is conducted using the finger-prick technique.
What is a serology test for hepatitis b?
Serology is the group of tests that are used together to determine your hepatitis B status. Together, the tests can show whether you have been infected, how contagious you are and whether your infection means you are now immune.
What is a PCR test for hepatitis b?
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the test used in a lab to determine whether your blood sample contains hepatitis b. It is conducted on the blood serum and cells.
What is a hepatitis b profile test?
The hepatitis B profile is another word for the panel of 3 serology tests that determine your comprehensive hepatitis B status.
What is the hepatitis b surface antigen test?
The hepatitis B surface antigen test detects the infection in the blood. Other tests are needed to determine immunity and infectiousness.
What test is used for hepatitis b titer?
The titer is the hepatitis B surface antibody test, which determines the level of infection in the blood and whether or not you are immune.
Does hepatitis b show up in blood tests?
Yes. Hepatitis B can only be detected in the blood. This can be done either in a lab or at home using the finger prick method. The results must be analyzed in a lab no matter how the sample is collected.
How do you get tested for hepatitis b?
How to get tested for hepatitis B depends on where you live. You can get tested for hepatitis B at your doctor, a sexual health clinic or at home. Ordering an at home hepatitis B test is easy, discreet and just as accurate as a test conducted at the doctor.
How to read hepatitis b test results?
Depending on the test you conduct, a negative result can be ideal or not. A positive test to the surface antigen means you are infected with hepatitis B. An accompanying positive surface antibody test means you have been or are infected but are now immune and cannot pass on the infection.
A positive core antibody test also means that you have been infected in the past, but more testing will be needed if an accompanying surface antibody result is negative.
Does a normal blood test show hepatitis b?
No. You will usually need to request a hepatitis B blood test.
How much does a hepatitis b test cost?
The price of a hepatitis B test depends on where you live, which test you are given and where you decide to get tested. Treatable offer great value at home hepatitis B tests, but your local sexual health clinic may be able to test you for free.
How to test for hepatitis b immunity?
Hepatitis B immunity is tested for using a surface antibody test. If your blood contains antibodies, you are immune to hepatitis B. This can be the result of either a previous infection or vaccination.
When to test for hepatitis b after exposure?
When to test for hepatitis B depends on whether you think you have been exposed or not. If you do, you should test after 3 months from the potential exposure date but do a test immediately if you are not sure – you can always do another after this time.