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All You Need to Know About Hepatitis B Infection and HBsAg Test

Hepatitis B Infection and the HBsAg Test : An overview

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), for which Hepatitis Tests (such as the HBV Genotyping, HBV RNA test, HBeAg test, HBsAg Test, or the Hepatitis B surface antigen Test) are normally recommended by the medical fraternity. Hepatitis B can cause liver failure, scarring of the liver and cancer. Left untreated, it can be fatal, too. The other danger of Hepatitis B is that being a contagious disease, a person might be infected and pass it on unknowingly.

Hence, it is very important to be sure that one does not catch the hepatitis B infection as it is an incurable disease, although preventative measures can help control the intensity of the hepatitis B infection. There may be several causes for being infected by hepatitis B, and the condition is highly infectious as well. Hepatitis B has several symptoms which make it fairly simple to detect, although in some cases the symptoms of hepatitis B may not be evident or apparent at the beginning of the condition. In children below 5 years of age and adults with a subdued immune system, symptoms of hepatitis B may not appear at all. There are many precautions and hepatitis tests that one might take to ensure timely diagnosis which helps in controlling the hepatitis B virus from causing irreversible damage to the liver. These tests can be availed at reputed diagnostics and lab test centers like House of Diagnostics.

What is Hepatitis B Virus?

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is amongst the most common significant chronic viral infections in the world. There are five types of viral hepatitis – A, B, C, D and E. Each is a virus of a different kind. Out of them, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the most persistent ones. The hepatitis B virus is usually passed from mother to child during childbirth, and it can be transmitted via contact with blood and other body fluids. Hepatitis B virus can be of 2 types, chronic or acute. Symptoms appear quickly in acute hepatitis B, whereas chronic hepatitis B develops slowly over time and symptoms might be unnoticeable until complications arise.

What are the Symptoms of the Hepatitis B Malady?

Any symptom of hepatitis B warrants immediate and urgent evaluation. Acute hepatitis B may occur without symptoms initially, and therefore not be obvious for months. Symptoms of hepatitis B may not appear in children who are younger than 5 years of age either. Adults with a subdued immune system may not show symptoms of hepatitis B too. Some common symptoms

  • Fatigue.
  • Dark urine.
  • Clay-colored stools.
  • Abdominal discomfort.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Weakness.
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes (sclera) and skin (jaundice).

Sources or Causes of Hepatitis B? Is Hepatitis B Transmissible?

There may be several causes for being infected by Hepatitis B. And yes, Hepatitis B is highly infectious. Contact with infected blood or some other bodily fluids spreads the virus. Hepatitis B virus can endure outside the body for at least a week, during which time it is equally dangerous and can infect a person who has not been vaccinated.

Some of the ways one may get infected with the Hepatitis B virus include:

  • Direct exchange with infected blood.
  • Transfer from an infected mother to baby during birth.
  • Being pricked with a contaminated needle, syringes or other instruments used to inject drugs.
  • Through unhygienic tattoo practices.
  • Close contact with a person with the hepatitis B virus.
  • During sexual intercourse.
  • Sharing a razor or toothbrush, or any other personal item with remnants of infected fluid.
  • Healthcare workers may become unwitting transmitters.
  • Unprotected sexual intercourse between 2 male counterparts.
  • People with multiple sex partners.
  • People suffering from chronic liver disease.
  • People with kidney disease.
  • Diabetic patients
  • Patients especially over 60 years of age.
  • If one is traveling to countries with a high rate of Hepatitis B virus infection.

What are the Ways in Which Hepatitis B Does NOT Spread?

It is important to note that the Hepatitis B virus is not spread through breastfeeding, food or water, sharing eating utensils, hugging, holding hands, kissing, sneezing, coughing or insect bites. Donated blood is tested for the hepatitis B virus beforehand and any diseased blood is rejected, so the chance of getting infected via blood transfusion is low.

How Does Hepatitis B Affect Our Health and Why Should One be Concerned?

The chronic form of hepatitis B infection is more damaging because it can lead to issues such as liver scarring (cirrhosis) or liver fibrosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Kidney disease, as well as blood vessel problems too, are complications that may arise from hepatitis B infection. Many cases go unreported or remain undiagnosed until a person shows signs of end-stage liver disease, and that might transcend to a fatal result. Hence, getting tested if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned earlier is of utmost importance.

How Can You Prevent Yourself From Getting Infected by the Fepatitis B Virus?

There are many small and simple yet highly effective steps you can take to avoid getting infected by hepatitis B virus, some of which include:

  • Getting vaccinated (if you haven’t been infected earlier).
  •  Practicing safe sex and using condoms every time.
  • If you are a healthcare professional, then wearing gloves when you have to clean up after others, especially if you have to handle tampons, bandages and linens.
  • Covering all open cuts or wounds, burns, etc.
  • Not sharing personal items like toothbrushes, nail care tools, razors or pierced earrings with anyone.
  • Not sharing chewing gum.
  • Not pre-chewing food for a baby.
  • Making sure that the sterilization process for needles for ear piercing, drugs or tattoos including equipment’s for tools for pedicures and manicures are carried out correctly.
  • Always making sure to clean up blood using one-part household bleach and 10 parts water.

What are the Treatments Available for HBV Infection?

Unfortunately, no definite treatment, cure or medication exists for an acute HBV infection, which is why it is critical to prevent it. Only supportive care can be given, which depends on the symptoms and severity.

  • Treatment for alleged exposure – For anyone who might be exposed to another individual’s potentially infected blood or body fluid, he or she can undergo a post-exposure prophylaxis protocol to prevent being infected. The HBV vaccination and HBIG provide this protection, which is given after the exposure and before the development of any severe infection. If the person is already infected then this protocol will not cure it, but it decreases the rate of acute infection.

  • Treatment for long-lasting HBV infection – For chronic HBV infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends treatment of the patient with an antiviral medication. Although not a cure, it can stop the virus from reproducing and prevent its development into advanced liver disease. As discussed earlier, a person with chronic HBV infection might develop liver cancer or cirrhosis quickly, and without warning. People suffering from chronic HBV infection require constant medical evaluation and liver ultrasounds every 6 months so that the disease progression can be monitored for liver damage or worsening/deteriorating disease.

Therefore, presenting to the doctor as soon as you suspect you’ve been exposed to the virus is of paramount importance. The sooner you approach a professional for medical guidance, the higher the probability of a successful treatment. The doctor will give a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin and a vaccine. The protein enhances your immune system, thus helping it to fight off the infection. If you do get sick, the medical professional may also advice bed rest for speedier recovery.

Acetaminophen and alcohol can damage your liver, hence you will have to give them up, like other things that can harm your liver. It is essential to check with your doctor before taking any other drugs, supplements or even herbal treatments. Eating a healthy diet helps too.

If the infection goes away, it will indicate that you are an inactive carrier, which is to say that you are virus-free. However, antibody tests can confirm that you had hepatitis B in the past. If the condition persists for more than 6 months, it will suggest that you carry chronic active hepatitis B.

What are the Tests Available to Determine HBV Infection?

The best way is to treat Hepatitis is to do a timely diagnosis. If, however, it is suspected that one may have HBV infection, a panel of Hepatitis B blood tests will be prescribed for confirmation of the ailment. The right Hepatitis Test can also determine whether the Hepatitis B infection is acute or chronic, as well as if one is immune to or safe from the condition. Hepatitis B Blood Tests include:

  • HBV Genotyping:

    A study and examination of the genetic composition of an individual is called genotyping. Hence, HBV genotyping means to find out what the genetic constitution of the HBV is. It is done via a simple blood test. Till date, 4 subtypes (adw, adr, awr and ayr) and 10 genotypes (A to J) of the hepatitis B virus have been recognized. They seem to be correlated with geography and ethnicity of the individual affected. For instance, Genotype A has an inclination for chronicity while viral mutations are often encountered in genotype C. Thus, genotype determination in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection is necessary in determining the progression of the disease and planning out the best antiviral treatment.

  • HBV RNA test: RNA, or Ribonucleic acid, is a nucleic acid molecule which is similar to DNA but contains ribose instead of deoxyribose (DNA, which is a nucleic acid that arries our genetic code). The HBV RNA may evolve if the virus-host interaction lasts long – which can happen during a chronic hepatitis B viral infection.

  • HBeAg test:
    An acronym for hepatitis B e-antigen, HBeAg refers to the ‘soluble’ or extractable part of the ‘core’ antigen of the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The presence of HBeAg indicates that the virus is actively multiplying and is highly contagious. Therefore, the HBeAg test is most often used to indicate the level of contagiousness.
  • HBsAg Test (Hepatitis B surface antigen): The HBsAg test is a blood test specifically administered to determine if one has been infected with the hepatitis B virus. The HBsAg test achieves this by detecting the presence of “surface antigen” (i.e., hepatitis virus) in the blood. If the HBsAg test turns out positive, then more tests may be recommended by medical professional supervising the condition to figure out if the infection is acute or chronic. A positive HBsAg test result means the infection is present, and if not careful, can be transmitted to others. The HBsAg test is done via a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in the arm.

  • Hepatitis B core antigen test (anti-HBc or HBcAb): This is a hepatitis test where the presence of anti-HBc indicates previous or existing infection by the hepatitis B virus in an undefined time frame.

  • Hepatitis B surface antibody test (anti-HBs or HBsAb): This is another variety of hepatitis test. The presence of anti-HBs generally indicates recovery and immunity from hepatitis B virus infection. Anti-HBs can also develop in someone who has already been vaccinated against hepatitis B.

  • Liver function tests:

    LFT (Liver Function Test) is a suite of blood tests can often determine whether or not the liver healthy in all respects, thereby effectively functioning as hepatitis tests. These tests can also distinguish between acute and chronic liver disorders and between hepatitis and cholestasis, for example – serum bilirubin test, serum albumin test, serum alkaline phosphatase test, serum aminotransferases, prothrombin time (PTT) test, alanine transaminase test (ALT), aspartate transaminase test (AST), gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase test, lactic dehydrogenase test, 5’-nucleotidase test, alpha-fetoprotein test and mitochondrial antibodies test.

The above tests apart, the following approaches may also be advised:

How is the HBsAg Test Done?

The process of taking an HBsAg Test is fairly simple. It is done via a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in the arm.

Does an HBsAg Test Carry Any Risks?

The HBsAg Test by itself is risk-free. However, act of drawing blood brings with it standard caveats such as a minor prick-like pain, lightheaded-ness or nausea (in rare cases) or potential bleeding.

Are There Factors that Can Influence or Affect HBsAg Test Results?

Normally, no. External or collateral factors usually do not interfere or affect the readings and results of an HBsAg Test.

How Does One Get Ready For the HBsAg Test?

Normally, no special preparation is needed to take an HBsAg Test, as long as the healthcare or medical professional (who is administering the HBsAg Test) is aware of your medical history, any drug or medicine related allergies that you may have any ongoing medication (including illicit drugs or medicines that don’t need a prescription), if applicable.

How Much Does an Hepatitis Test Cost?

House of Diagnostics offers affordable and quick Hepatitis Test to ensure your preparedness against ailments and general well-being of your health. You can book a test for yourself – or someone else who needs help – in just a few clicks here.


Hepatitis B Tests Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).



All You Need to Know About Hepatitis B Infection and HBsAg Test
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All You Need to Know About Hepatitis B Infection and HBsAg Test
Read about Hepatitis B Infection and HBsAg Test in detail. HBsAg (Hepatitis B surface antigen) - A "positive" or "reactive" HBsAg test result means that the person is infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. It can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer.
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