Testing Information - Hepatitis B for Patients
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.