Introduction of the Hepatitis B Test

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Introduction

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver, which is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B blood tests detect viral proteins (antigens). These are the antibodies produced in response to an infection, or detect or evaluate the genetic material (DNA) of the virus.

 

Interpretaion of the Results

The pattern of test results can identify a person who has a current active infection, was exposed to HBV in the past, or has immunity as a result of vaccination.Results of the tests are typically evaluated together. Sometimes the meaning of one result depends on the result of another test. However, not all tests are performed for all people.

Initial Tests       Follow-up Tests      
Hep B surface antigen (HBsAg) Hep B surface antibody (Anti-HBs) Hep B core antibody Total (Anti-HBc IgG+IgM) Hep B core antibody (Anti-HBc IgM) Hep B e antigen (HBeAg) Hep B e antibody (Anti-HBe) HBV DNA Possible Interpretation / Stage of Infection
Negative Negative Negative Negative Not performed Not performed Not performed No active or prior infection; not immune — may be good candidate for vaccine; possibly in the incubation stage
Negative Positive Negative Not performed Not performed Not performed Not performed Immunity due to vaccination
Negative Positive Positive Not performed Not performed Not performed Not performed Infection resolved; virus can reactivate if immune system suppressed
Positive Negative Positive or Negative Positive Positive or Negative Negative Detected Acute infection, usually with symptoms; contagious; could also be flare of chronic infection
Negative Negative Positive Positive Negative Positive None detected Acute infection is resolving (convalescent)
Positive Negative Positive Positive Positive or Negative Negative or Positive Detected Usually indicates an active chronic infection (liver damage likely)
Positive Negative Positive Negative Negative Positive None detected or detected at very low leve Chronic infection but low risk of liver damage — carrier state

Keywords: hepatitis B; test; viral proteins; antibodies

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