Commonly Asked Questions
If you test positive for the hepatitis B virus for longer than 6 months, this indicates that you have a chronic hepatitis B infection. You should make an appointment with a hepatologist (liver specialist) or gastroenterologist familiar with hepatitis B. This specialist will order blood tests and possibly a liver ultrasound to evaluate your hepatitis B status and the health of your liver. Your doctor will probably want to see you at least once or twice a year to monitor your hepatitis B and determine if you would benefit from treatment.
Most people chronically infected with hepatitis B can expect to live long, healthy lives. Once you are diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B, the virus may stay in your blood and liver for a lifetime. It is important to know that you can pass the virus along to others, even if you don’t feel sick. This is why it’s so important that you make sure that all close household contacts and sex partners are tested and vaccinated against hepatitis B.
Right now, there is no cure for chronic hepatitis B, but the good news is there are treatments that can help slow the progression of liver disease in chronically infected persons by slowing down the virus. If there is less hepatitis B virus being produced, then there is less damage being done to the liver. Sometimes these drugs can even get rid of the virus, although this is not common.
With all of the new exciting research, there is great hope that a complete cure will soon be found for chronic hepatitis B. Visit our Drug Watch for a list of other promising drugs in development.
It is important to understand that not every person with chronic hepatitis B needs to be on medication. You should talk to your doctor about whether you are a good candidate for drug therapy or a clinical trial. Be sure that you understand the pros and cons of each treatment option. Whether you decide to start treatment or not, you should be seen regularly by a liver specialist or a doctor knowledgeable about hepatitis B.
No. The blood bank will not accept any blood that has been exposed to hepatitis B, even if you have recovered from an acute infection.