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Glossary of Terms

acute infection
An acute infection occurs in the first 6 months of a person’s exposure to the hepatitis B virus.
AFP
This test is used as a liver tumor marker for patients with chronic hepatitis B. Patients should have their AFP levels monitored routinely since high levels could indicate the possibility of liver cancer.
algorithm
An algorithm is a step-by-step protocol for managing health-care issues.
alpha-fetoprotein
Increased levels may indicate the development of liver cancer, which is why the simple AFP blood test is included in the regular monitoring of those which chronic HBV.
ALT
This is a test that is used to evaluate the function of the liver. ALT is an enzyme that is released into the blood by damaged liver cells. It is used as a marker for liver cell damage.
antibodies
The hepatitis B surface antibody (HbsAb) indicates that a person is immune to the virus. A person can develop these antibodies in response to the vaccine or when they recover from a hepatitis B infection.
antiviral
A type of drug that interferes with the ability of a virus to replicate in the human body. Lamivudine and adefovir are two clinically-approved antiviral treatments for chronic hepatitis B.
asymptomatic
Neither causing nor exhibiting symptoms of disease.
biopsy
A liver biopsy involves taking a small piece of tissue from the liver to examine under the microscope. It is used to detect potential liver damage caused by chronic hepatitis B infections.
carriers
Carriers are people who have the hepatitis B virus in their blood for longer than 6 months, also known as chronic hepatitis B.
chronic hepatitis B
If a person tests positive for the hepatitis B virus (HBsAg) for more than 6 months, then they are diagnosed as being chronically infected. They are at increased risk for developing cirrhosis and/or liver cancer.
cirrhosis
Scarring of the liver that can result in the loss of liver cells and impaired liver function.
clinical trial
Clinical trials are used to test the safety and efficacy of a drug before it can be approved by the FDA. Please go to http://www.hepb.org/02-0143.hepb for hepatitis B drugs that are currently in clinical trial.
DNA level
The amount of hepatitis B DNA in your blood can give an indication of how active the virus is in your body. This test can be used to help determine whether a person with chronic hepatitis B should start treatment.
e-antibody positive and e-antigen negative
This hepatitis e-antigen test result can indicate reduced viral replication (or inactive liver disease), and signals complete e-antigen seroconversion.
epidemiology
Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution, and control of disease in populations.
HBV DNA
HBV DNA is a marker of viral replication and level of infectivity. It is used to assess and monitor the treatment of patients with chronic HBV infection.
hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is an acute, vaccine-preventable viral infection mainly spread via feces and contaminated food and water.
Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG)
Given as a shot, HBIG contains antibodies to hepatitis B virus; it offers prompt protection that lasts up to three months, and is often used if an unvaccinated individual is exposed to hepatitis B.
hepatitis B vaccination
There is a safe and effective vaccine for hepatitis B that can protect you for a lifetime from getting infected with the hepatitis B virus. For more information, go to www.hepb.org/hepb/vaccine_information.htm.
hepatocellular carcinoma
Liver cancer.
high-risk
Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and infectious bodily fluids. High-risk avenues of infection include direct blood-to-blood contact, unprotected sex, and childbirth (when the virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby). For a more complete list of high-risk groups and activities, please go to www.hepb.org/professionals/high-risk_groups.htm.
imaging studies
Ultrasound and CT Scan are used as part of the screening process for liver cancer.
immune modulator
This is a type of drug that alters the immune system. Interferon is the FDA-approved immune modulator for treatment of chronic hepatitis B.
incidence
The number of new cases of a condition, symptom, death, or injury that arise during a specific period of time (e.g. a year).
liver biopsies
A small piece of tissue is removed from the liver and examined under a microscope to look for the presence of inflammation or liver damage.
liver specialist
Liver specialists generally practice as either "hepatologists" or "gastroenterologists". To find a liver specialist near you, please visit the HBF Liver Specialist Directory at www.hepb.org/resources/liver_specialist_directory.htm.
perinatal infection
The hepatitis B virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her child during the childbirth process.
prevalence
The percentage of a population that is affected with a particular disease at a given time.
prevalence rates
Prevalence rates are total number of cases of a disease in a given population at a specific time.
referral physician
Liver specialists generally practice as hepatologists or gastroenterologists.
serial blood work
The analysis of several blood tests over time may help determine hepatitis B status.
seroconvert
The hepatitis B e-Antigen test is frequently used to monitor the effectiveness of current hepatitis B therapies. The goal is for a patient to seroconvert from a positive to negative e-antigen.
subcutaneous
Interferons are given by an injection.