What blood tests are important to diagnose and evaluate my hepatitis B infection?
In order to understand your hepatitis B status, it is important that your doctor order the hepatitis B blood panel. This panel includes 3 basic biomarkers, but only one sample of blood is needed. Make sure you request a written copy of your blood test results so that you fully understand what tests were ordered and the actual results of each. Also, be sure to have your doctor clearly explain the results to you so that you fully understand your situation.
It is important to wait 6-8 weeks after a possible exposure before getting tested. If done before this time (known as “the window period”), the blood tests can have a false negative result. The window period is the time between exposure and the appearance of these markers in blood. The 3-part blood test includes the following:
1) Hepatitis B surface Antigen (HBsAg) - This directly tests for the presence of the hepatitis B virus. It should be negative if there is NO virus present.
2) Hepatitis B surface Antibody (HBsAb or anti-HBs) - This tests for the production of protective antibodies against the hepatitis B virus. This blood test should be positive if the protective antibodies are produced in response to vaccination or recovery from a natural infection.
3) Hepatitis B core Antibody (HBcAb or anti-HBc) - This antibody does not provide any protection. A positive result may indicate that a person has been exposed to the hepatitis B virus. This test must be interpreted in relation to the above 2 test results.
Please note that all three blood test markers are interpreted in relation to each other. Depending on one marker alone may not provide the full or accurate picture of your hepatitis B status.
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Page updated 02/09/2022