Test Detail
Overview
Interpreting Results
FAQ's

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Written by
Dr. Betina Chandolia
BDS, MDS - Oral Pathology and Microbiology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Hepatitis Bs (Surface) Antigen Test

(HBsAg)
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Hepatitis Bs (Surface) Antigen Test
You need to provide
Blood
This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. No special preparation required

Overview


What is HBsAg?

Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg), also known as Australia antigen is present on the surface of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). This test detects the presence of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) in the blood.


Why is HBsAg done?

  • To detect Hepatitis B virus infection in patients having symptoms suggestive of Hepatitis

  • To screen for Hepatitis B infection following accidental exposure to HBV e.g. in healthcare workers. Repeat testing is recommended after 6 weeks post exposure

  • To screen for Hepatitis B infection in individuals who are at risk of acquiring infection like IV drug users, sex workers, hemodialysis patients, prisoners, etc.

  • To screen for Hepatitis B infection during pregnancy to prevent transmission of infection from mother to child



What does HBsAg Measure?

HBsAg test detects the presence or absence of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) in the blood.

Hepatitis B virus is one of the five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E and is the causative agent of Hepatitis B (infection in the liver). Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) is present on the surface of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBsAg is present in the blood of patients with viral hepatitis B (with or without clinical symptoms).

HBsAg is the first marker appearing in the blood at 6 to 16 weeks following exposure to HBV. In most cases after an acute infection, this virus clears up on its own in 1 to 2 months after the onset of symptoms. But in some people, the virus does not go away and results in chronic infection which over the years may lead to liver damage (scarring or cirrhosis) or liver cancer. Persistence of HBsAg for more than 6 months indicates the development of either a chronic carrier state or chronic HBV infection.



Interpreting HBsAg results


Interpretations

A "Reactive" or "Positive" HBsAg test result means that the person is infected with Hepatitis B virus. If a person tests “positive,” then further testing is required to determine if this is a new “acute” infection or a “chronic” Hepatitis B infection or chronic HBV carrier state.

A "Non-reactive" or "Negative" HBsAg test result means that the person is not infected with Hepatitis B virus.


Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HBsAg


Frequently Asked Questions about Hepatitis Bs (Surface) Antigen Test

Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood from a blood vessel in your arm. The healthcare provider will tie an elastic band around your arm to make the blood vessels swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You will feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected will then be sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?
Symptoms of acute Hepatitis B may not be apparent for months after exposure to HBV. However, the most common symptoms are: fatigue (weakness) muscle and joint pain loss of appetite dark urine fever abdominal discomfort yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
Q. How is Hepatitis B transmitted?
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through contact with infected blood and body fluids. This can happen during: Unprotected sex with an infected partner Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth) Sharing needles, syringes, or drug preparation equipment Sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors or medical equipment such as a glucose monitor with an infected person Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person Exposure to blood from needlesticks or other sharp instruments of an infected person Skin-penetrating procedures, including acupuncture, piercing and tattooing may also result in transmission of infection
Q. Can Hepatitis B be spread through food or water?
No, Hepatitis B virus is not spread through food or water, sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, hand holding, coughing, or sneezing.
Q. What additional tests your doctor may order in case of HBsAg test result is positive?
In case of the positive test result, your doctor may order the following tests: Hepatitis B Surface Antibody (anti-HBs), Total Hepatitis B Core Antibody (anti-HBc), IgM Antibody to Hepatitis B Core Antigen (IgM anti-HBc), Hepatitis B “e” Antigen (HBeAg), Hepatitis B e Antibody (HBeAb or anti-HBe), Hepatitis B Viral DNA and Liver Function Test (LFT) for elevated liver enzymes.
Q. Is there any preparation required before the HBsAg test?
No special preparation is required for Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) test.
Q. What are the chances that acute Hepatitis infection will develop into a chronic infection?
It depends on the age of the person infected. The younger a person is when he gets infected with Hepatitis B virus, the greater is the chance of developing a chronic infection. Approximately 90% of infected infants will develop chronic infection. The risk goes down as a child gets older. Approximately 25%–50% of the children infected between the ages of 1 and 5 years will develop chronic Hepatitis B. On the contrary, about 95% of the adults recover completely and do not become chronically infected.
Q. How long does the Hepatitis B virus survive outside the body?
The Hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for at least 7 days. The virus is still capable of causing infection during that time.
Q. How can Hepatitis B be prevented?
Hepatitis B can be best prevented by vaccination. The Hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective. Three doses of the vaccine are needed for full protection (at 0, 1 and 6 months).
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