Acute vs. Chronic Hepatitis B
When a person is first infected with the hepatitis B virus, this is called an "acute infection". A person may not have any symptoms or s/he could become seriously ill. Most adults will recover and get rid of the virus without any problems. If the virus remains in the blood for more than six months, then a person is diagnosed as having a "chronic infection".
Fortunately, most healthy adults (90%) who are infected with the hepatitis B virus will recover and develop protective antibodies against future hepatitis B infections.
Unfortunately, this is not true for infants and young children
— 90% of infants and up to 50% of young children
infected with hepatitis B will not get rid of the virus and
will develop a chronic infection. A smaller number
of infected adults (5-10%) will also become chronically infected
with hepatitis B.
A simple blood test can diagnose a hepatitis B infection. Repeated blood tests may be ordered over a six-month period to make an accurate diagnosis.
Page last reviewed February 2014