Hepatitis B 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 was found.
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 state.
HBV DNA testing finds genetic material (DNA) from the hepatitis B virus and means that you have a current infection.
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.
What Affects the Test
Your doctor will talk with you about anything that may stop you from having the test or that may change the test results.