How is Hepatitis B diagnosed?

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.

Get tested for Hepatitis B (HBV)

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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.

Mark Riegel, MD

Quick snapshot

Can it be cured?

No. Acute HBV will resolve itself within six months; chronic HBV is generally a life-long condition.

Type of Infection

Viral. The Hepatitis B virus infects the liver.

How is treated?

Antiviral Medicine. A single dose of Azithromycin or seven daily doses of Doxycycline.

Recovery Time

Upto 6 Months. An acute case of HBV is usually over within six months.

Can I have sex?

No. It is recommended that sexual intercourse is avoided until you are free from the disease.

Can I get re-infected?

No. Once you have had an acute HBV infection, you cannot get it again, though you can still contract other types of hepatitis.