Hep B Blog

Who’s On Your HBV Team?

No matter where you are with your hepatitis B – chronically infected since birth, or recently learned you are HBV positive, you want to be sure you are surrounded by all of the right people to give you the medical guidance and emotional support you need.

Start with your primary care physician (PCP).  You want a doctor that listens to you and is willing to work with your liver specialist.  Your PCP’s office may be coordinating your annual or bi-annual lab work for HBV monitoring and is your first line of care .

HBV can be complicated when it comes to making decisions about whether or not you need monitoring, treatment, or monitoring for liver cancer (HCC).  There are many phases of HBV, and you want to be sure you are followed through ALL phases.  You need a liver specialist that has experience working with patients infected with HBV.  This doctor is nearly always a Gastroenterologist (GI doc) or a Hepatologist.  If the patient is a child, you need a pediatric GI doctor or hepatologist.  Although well qualified, an infectious disease doctor is not really the best fit because of the involvement of the liver.  Once again, experience with HBV infected patients is crucial.  These specialists are often found at large, or University Hospital centers.

Check out this directory of liver specialists in your area.   Keep in mind that living a couple of hours from your liver specialist should be fine.  Visits are typically annual or bi-annual.  Visits may increase depending on treatment you may require.  Lab work can usually be coordinated with your local lab via your PCP.

Get to know your local pharmacist.  They are a wonderful source of information on everything from prescribed HBV medications to choosing the best OTC cold medicines, or pain relievers.  I am on a first name basis with my pharmacist, and try to visit when the volume of customers is low, so no one feels rushed.

Living with a chronic illness can take its toll on your mental health.  Each patient is unique, but generally all patients cycle through initial fear or denial, isolation, worry, and acceptance.  If you feel you are depressed and need help coping with your HBV, seek advice from your PCP, liver specialist, or a mental health expert.

Consider joining a support group.  Sometimes it’s lonely dealing with a complicated, chronic illness like HBV.   Support groups are a great forum for addressing the many concerns when dealing with various aspects of your HBV, from the best treatment protocols to sex and dating.  I belong to two HBV support groups and I find the interactions extremely informative, and the list members caring and very supportive of members in all stages of their HBV.

Take a look at The Hepatitis B Foundation’s website.  There’s a multitude of information from simple HBV basics to in-depth information from world-renowned liver specialists and researchers, along with personal stories.  Ask away if you have any questions.  HBF is here to help, and we hope to be part of your team.

Comments on this blog are closed. If you have questions about hepatitis B or this blog post, please email info@hepb.org or call 215-489-4900.

2 thoughts on “Who’s On Your HBV Team?”

  1. dear sir,
    its really valuable thing.thnx.
    i am hbv infected and i am newly married.i have got a 3 dose of hbv injection given to my wife before marriage.
    Now what should i do?which types of precaution should i take?so that my wife and my future child will be safe from this?
    plz reply me in form of ur valuable words.
    waiting for ur reply.
    thnx/regards.
    tanvir
    india.

    1. Hi Tanvir,
      Please try not to worry. You are taking all of the correct precautions. The HBV vaccine is very effective, but if you are still concerned about your wife, you can have her get a quantitative surface antibody (HBsAb) blood test run. The HBsAb titre must be greater than 10. Then you will know for sure that the vaccine was effective for her. When you are ready for children, be sure your child is vaccinated within 12 hours of birth, and gets the other two vaccines in the series at the scheduled times. In the US, HBIG is also administered at birth. Remember to take care of yourself, and you will also take care of your family. My next blog talks about taking care of you, and that’s important too! Please take care.

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