Hepatitis B Virus Tests
Other HBV tests are not done as often:
- Hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb) is
an antibody to the hepatitis B core antigen that appears about 1 month after the start of an
active HBV infection. It can be found in people who had an infection in the
past and in those with long-term (chronic) HBV. It usually is present for life.
Blood banks test for this antibody when screening donated blood for hepatitis
- Hepatitis B core antibody IgM (HBcAbIgM)
is another antibody to the hepatitis B core antigen. It indicates an HBV
infection that has occurred within the last 6 months. It can also mean that a chronic hepatitis B infection has flared up again.
- Hepatitis B e-antibody (HBeAb) shows that the active stage of
an acute HBV infection is almost over, and your risk of being contagious is
A hepatitis B vaccine is available to prevent an HBV
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) testing
Infection with the
hepatitis D virus (HDV), or delta agent, occurs only in
people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Vaccination
against hepatitis B will prevent hepatitis D infection. Hepatitis D infection
is rare in the United States and Canada, except among people who inject illegal
drugs and those who are frequently exposed to blood products. The hepatitis D
test detects HDV antibodies. A positive test indicates only that you have been
infected with HDV—it cannot distinguish between an acute or chronic infection.
Another test, the HDV RNA test, is needed to determine whether you have an
active HDV infection. It does not distinguish between an acute or chronic
infection. This test currently is not available except in research
Since hepatitis B infections can be spread through
sexual contact, practice safer sex until your test results are returned.
Why It Is Done
Hepatitis B virus testing is done
- Identify the type of hepatitis B virus
infection. Testing can determine whether an infection has occurred recently or
in the past. Other tests that show how well the liver is functioning are
usually done to help make treatment decisions.
- Screen people who
have a higher risk of getting or spreading a hepatitis B infection, such as
doctors, dentists, and nurses.
- Screen blood donors and donor organs
to prevent the spread of hepatitis B.
- Find out if a person has
developed antibodies after receiving vaccinations for hepatitis B. The presence
of antibodies to hepatitis B virus (HBsAb) means that the vaccinations were
- Find out if abnormal liver function tests are being
caused by hepatitis B.
- Monitor how well treatment of chronic
hepatitis B is working.
How To Prepare
No special preparation is needed
before having hepatitis virus testing.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its
risks, or how it will be done. To help you understand the importance of this
test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).