Hepatitis B Virus Tests
How It Is Done
The health professional drawing blood
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to
stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is
easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Apply a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Apply pressure to the site and then a
How It Feels
You may feel nothing at all from the
needle puncture, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes
through the skin. Some people feel a stinging pain while the needle is in the
vein. But many people do not feel any pain (or have only minor discomfort)
after the needle is positioned in the vein. The amount of pain you feel depends
on the skill of the health professional drawing the blood, the condition of
your veins, and your sensitivity to pain.
There is very little risk of
complications from having blood drawn from a vein.
- You may develop a small bruise at the
puncture site. You can reduce the risk of bruising by keeping pressure on the
site for several minutes after the needle is withdrawn.
- In rare
cases, the vein may become inflamed after the blood sample is taken. This
condition is called phlebitis and is usually treated with a warm compress
applied several times a day.
- Continued bleeding can be a problem
for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other
blood-thinning medicines can also make bleeding more likely. If you have
bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell
your health professional before your blood is drawn.
virus tests check for substances in the blood that show a
hepatitis infection is active or has occurred in the
past. The tests look for
antigens or genetic material (DNA) of the
virus that causes hepatitis. Some tests also look for
antibodies that the body makes against the virus.
Normal results of hepatitis virus testing are called negative. This means that
no antigens, antibodies, or genetic material related to the hepatitis B virus
Hepatitis B and D virus tests
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis B (HBV) antibodies and/or
antigens are detected. More tests may be needed to determine whether you
have an acute or chronic (long-term) HBV infection.
- Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) shows an active infection. If the test remains positive
for longer than 6 months, this means you have a chronic HBV infection. You can spread
the HBV infection to others.
- Hepatitis B surface antibody (HBsAb) shows the end of active infection and means you are
protected against HBV for life. It also can show that you received the HBV
vaccine. Occasionally the test shows that you have both HBsAb antibodies and the HBsAg
antigen. In this case you are still contagious.
- Hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg) shows an active contagious
- HBV DNA testing finds genetic
material (DNA) from the hepatitis B virus and means that you have a current
- Hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb)
shows that you have been infected with HBV. It does not tell the difference
between a past or present infection.
- Hepatitis B core antibody IgM (HBcAbIgM) shows an HBV infection that has occurred
within the last 6 months. It can also mean that a chronic hepatitis B infection has flared up.
- Hepatitis B e-antibody (HBeAb) shows a less active HBV infection. You are less contagious but
can still infect others.
Hepatitis D (HDV)
Hepatitis D antibodies are found. But this
test cannot tell the difference between an acute and a chronic infection.
Hepatitis D can only be present if hepatitis B is present.