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Hepatitis A Virus Test

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (such as Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) test is a blood test that looks for proteins (antibodies) made by the body in response to the virus that causes hepatitis A.

Negative results of hepatitis virus testing mean that no antibodies against the hepatitis virus were found. Positive results mean that hepatitis A antibodies were found. Results are usually available in 5 to 7 days.

Hepatitis A test
Negative:

No hepatitis A virus (HAV) antibodies are found.

Positive:

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) antibodies are found. You may need more tests to find out if you have a present, active infection or a past, resolved infection.

  • IgM anti-HAV antibodies are found if you have an active or a recent infection. IgM antibodies usually show up in the blood as early as 2 weeks after you become infected with HAV, when symptoms of hepatitis A are present, and last for a few months after symptoms have gone away.
  • Only IgG anti-HAV antibodies are found if you have had an infection in the past or when you have had the hepatitis A vaccine. This means that you are protected against the infection.

What Affects the Test

Many conditions can change anti-HAV antibodies levels. Your doctor will talk with you about any abnormal results that may be related to your symptoms and medical history.

Your results may need to be rechecked if you are taking some herbs or other natural products.

What To Think About

  • Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination. To learn more, see the topic Immunizations.
  • You also may be able to prevent a hepatitis A infection even after you have been exposed to the virus if you get a hepatitis A vaccination or a dose of immunoglobulin. To learn more, see the topic Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis antibodies can take weeks or months to develop, so your results may be negative even though you have the early stages of an infection (false-negative).
  • Other tests that show how well the liver is working are usually done if your doctor thinks you may have hepatitis. These tests can include measuring levels of bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate aminotransferase.
  • Many states require that some types of hepatitis infections be reported to the local health department. The health department can then send out a warning to other people who may have been infected with the hepatitis virus, such as those who ate food served by a person who has the infection.
  • Hepatitis A virus does not cause long-term illness, so there is no need for follow-up testing once the infection goes away.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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