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Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease

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Hepatitis B Patient Fact Sheets

Testing Information - Hepatitis B for Patients

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What is Hepatitis B?

  • Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
  • Most adults who have HBV infection will recover in 6 - 12 months without treatment.
  • However, children and some adults can develop chronic (lifelong) hepatitis B infection.
  • There is a HBV vaccine available that may prevent infection.

Who should get a HBV test?

Talk with your healthcare provider about being tested for HBV infection if you:

  • Share needles.
  • Are a Injection drug user.
  • Have sexual contacts with a person known to be hepatitis B positive.
  • Are a man who has sex with men.
  • Are HIV-positive.
  • Are on hemodialysis.
  • Are a person needing immunosuppressive therapy, including chemotherapy, immunosuppression related to organ transplantation, and immunosuppression for rheumatologic or gastroenterologic disorders.
  • Have elevated ALT/AST of unknow etiology.
  • Donate blood, plasma, organs, tissue, or semen.
  • Were born to an hepatitis B positive mother.
  • Are the source of blood or body fluids for exposure that might require post- exposure prophylaxis (e.g., needlestick, sexual assault).
  • Plan on being vaccinate for hepatitis B.
  • Were born in a region of high and intermediate HBV endemicity.
  • Are a U.S. born person not vaccinated as an infant and your parents were born in regions with high HBV endemicity.

Should I get a HBV test?

  • Yes, if any of the above statements is true. Getting tested for HBV is the only way to know if you have HBV infection.
  • If your HBV test is negative, you may be able to get vaccinated to prevent HBV infection.
  • If you have HBV infection you may not show symptoms for years, but can still pass the virus to others.
  • If you have HBV infection you can seek early treatment from your VA provider to prevent more serious liver disease and death.

How can I be tested for HBV?

  • Your VA health care provider can order the HBV blood test. Results are usually available in 1-2 weeks and will let you know whether you have HBV infection or if you can benefit from HBV vaccine.

Where can I find more information?