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Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg)

Also Known As: Hep B Test, HBV Test, Anti-HBs, Hep B Surface Antigen Test, Hep B Surface Antibody Test, HBeAg, HBsAg, Australian Antigen

What Is A Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test?

The Hepatitis B Surface Antigen is a blood test usually ordered to check if you are infected with the hepatitis virus. If the virus is found in the body with the related antigens and antibodies, it confirms that you have hepatitis B infection. People with positive test results are highly infectious and fully able to transfer the disease to other surrounding people through their blood and other body fluids.

What is hepatitis B? 

This chronic medical condition is a severe liver infection due to hepatitis B virus or HBV. It is one of the most commonly occurring infections affecting many individuals worldwide. However, this infection is self-resolving, i.e., the body can fight the virus in most cases. The virus and infection may become serious in acute cases, leading to liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B infection can also increase your risk of developing liver cancer, cirrhosis, and even liver failure. Most adults affected with the virus recover fully even with serious signs and symptoms. On the other hand, children and infants are more susceptible to developing chronic conditions. Prior immunization and vaccination can reduce the likelihood of catching the infection and passing it on to others.

What Is The Test Used For?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that leads to the inflammation of your liver. The results of this test can help identify the presence of hepatitis B infection, past exposure to the virus, and existing immunity to it. The hepatitis B virus easily spreads through contact with body fluids, especially from blood to blood contact. However, it can be transmitted through other body fluids as well. Some common forms of exposure depend upon geographical area but most frequently occur during childbirth/infancy while sharing needles for IV drug use and during unprotected sex.

Your doctor can ask for Hepatitis B Surface Antigen for the following reasons:

  • For Hepatitis B Virus Screening

This test serves as a screening method to find the disease even before developing symptoms. Many people with Hepatitis B show no symptoms at all. The early detection of the presence of hepatitis B antigen can help patients receive proper treatment and avoid unintentional spread to others.

  • Hepatitis B Virus Diagnosis And Evaluation

The test can also identify if you have a current hepatitis B infection or not. It can also indicate if the infection is chronic or acute and whether you can spread this virus to others or not.

  • Assessment Of Past Hepatitis B Infection

The test shows whether you are immune due to hepatitis B virus vaccination or recovering from a past infection. Your doctor can also use this test to attest whether the provided vaccination has successfully farmed immunity in people with a high risk of reactivation.

Why And When Do You Need A Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test?

Your doctor or health care provider can ask you to undergo this test if you have symptoms of Hepatitis B. Your signs can range from mild to severe but usually appears after 2-4 months of infection. Some of them include:

  • Dark urine
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes, i.e., jaundice
  • Fatigue and weakness

You are also likely to go through this test if you are:

  • Pregnant
  • Born and raised in parts of the world where hepatitis B is common, like Asia, Africa, and some parts of the Middle East
  • Have not received Hepatitis B vaccination until now
  • HIV positive
  • A user of injectable drugs
  • At the risk of HBV infection due to constant sexual exposure

What Kind Of Sample Is Required For The Test?

Normally a blood routine is carried out to diagnose the infection by testing for the corresponding antigens. The test is usually prescribed by a doctor or a health care professional and performed in a laboratory or other medical settings. A lab technician draws blood from your arm vein for laboratory-based tests and then sends the sample to the laboratory for further analysis. The immunoassay is performed to find the hepatitis antigen in the sample.

Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?

No special preparation is required before the Hepatitis B surface antigen test. However, you must tell your doctor about any medications you are consuming regularly, such as prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Are There Any Risks To This Test?

There is almost no risk and complications to the test. Some people experience pain or bruising at the puncture site, but the symptoms are usually mild and go away in a few days. You can feel dizzy and light-headed after handing out your blood sample in rare cases.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

The test result help determines whether Hepatitis B infection is negative or positive. If your test result is positive, it indicates the presence of the Hepatitis B antigen in your blood. Your doctor or health care provider can use the test results to know if the infection is acute or chronic and if the recovery is complete. Negative results are often considered normal, but it does not rule out the presence of the virus completely. A combination of results can be considered to classify or identify the hepatitis b virus infection status.

Related Tests: Hepatitis A Testing, Hepatitis C Testing, Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel.

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