Hepatitis B Testing
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus, which is acquired through sexual contact, sharing drug-injection equipment such as needles, or during vaginal birth. Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 18 be screened at least once for the hepatitis B virus, and all adults 18 to 59 years of age receive the vaccine.
Symptoms Vary With Age
Hepatitis B symptoms depend on the age of the infected individual. Children under 5 years who were infected during birth and immunosuppressed adults are frequently asymptomatic. Individuals over 30 years of age are more likely to present acute or new hepatitis B symptoms than individuals 6 to 29 years. Symptoms appear 60 to 150 days after the exposure event and can last up to 6 months.
Selected signs and symptoms of an acute hepatitis B infection:
- Dark-colored urine
- Joint pain
Individuals living with chronic hepatitis B are often asymptomatic with no sign of liver disease until they receive a cirrhosis or liver cancer diagnosis.
Who Needs a Hepatitis B Test?
- Anyone who requests a hepatitis B test should receive one, no questions asked.
- All pregnant people during the first trimester of each pregnancy.
- All adults over the age of 18 years at least once in their lifetime.
- Infants at 9-12 months born to hepatitis B positive mothers, or mothers who have evidence of a hepatitis B infection.
- Men who have sex with men who have multiple sex partners, as part of their routine 3-month screening for other sexually transmitted infections including HIV and syphilis.
KHEL Hepatitis B Screening
Hepatitis B antigen screening and confirmation testing requires a combined 2 mL spun blood serum or plasma collected no more than 7 days prior to arrival at KEHL. Testing for hepatitis B can be done with serum arriving in a spun serum separator tube (SST) tube. It is preferred serum arrive at KHEL cold and in a poured-off tube. Follow the collection and shipping instructions on the back of the Universal From.
If the hepatitis B specimen is Reactive on the antigen screen performed by KHEL, the specimen is referred to an outside laboratory for a hepatitis B confirmation test. Confirmation testing requires 1.5 mL serum or plasma. If there is not enough specimen remaining after the antigen screen for a confirmation test to be performed, a request for re-collection will be made. If you have any questions, contact KHEL during business hours.