How is Hepatitis B Tested & Diagnosed?

Hepatitis B Testing

A variety of blood tests can be used to diagnose HBV:

  • HBV Surface Antigen Test. Positive means you have HBV and can infect others.
  • Antibodies to HBV Surface Antigen. Positive means you can't infect others or be infected.
  • Antibodies to HBV Core Antigen. Can point to chronic condition but needs to be evaluated with other tests to be certain.

If you are diagnosed with HBV, other tests may be performed as well:

  • E-antigen Test. Positive means that you have high levels of HBV and are very contagious.
  • Liver Enzymes. To test the health of your liver.
  • Alpha-Fetoprotein Test. Liver cancer may be indicated by heightened levels of this protein.
  • Hepatitis B DNA Test. Detects how much of the virus is in your blood.
  • Liver Ultrasound or CT Scan. Looks at liver for signs of cancer or scarring.
  • Liver Biopsy. Determine the extent of liver damage.

What test do you recommend?

It is a DNA virus with a protein coat, the surface antigen (HBsAg) and a nucleic acid core, the core antigen (HVcAg). The standard hepatitis testing procedure performed to detect an HBV infection is a blood test for the surface antigen.

Written by Mark Riegel, MD

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