If you’ve been vaccinated against the Hepatitis B virus, this test will tell you if you’re still immune.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL RESULTS AND INFORMATION PROVIDED BY HEALTH eLABS ARE INTENDED FOR GENERAL HEALTH INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. AS SUCH THEY ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION, AND SHOULD NOT BE USED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, PREVENT OR CURE ANY DISEASE, SYNDROME, OR CONDITION WITHOUT THE SUPERVISION OF A LICENSED PHYSICIAN.
NOTE: This test should not be used to determine the cause of the acute liver disease known as hepatitis. For that testing, please visit our Acute Hepatitis Panel page.
PREPARATION: No fasting or other special preparation is needed for this test.
What does this test do?
This test checks for the presence of antibodies to the Hepatitis B virus circulating in the bloodstream.
Why is this important?
The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood and the exchange of body fluids. After entering the bloodstream, the Hepatitis B virus infects the liver and can lead to liver damage, liver failure, the need for a liver transplant, and even death. Long term carriers of Hepatitis B are also at a high risk of developing liver cancer.
Hepatitis B infection can be treated with drugs but the costs are enormous, and the treatment isn’t always curative. So it’s better to never get infected with Hepatitis B at all, and maintaining immunity to the virus is the best way to do that.
Luckily, Hepatitis B infection can be prevented through a series of three injections with the Hepatitis B vaccine, given over a six month period. This vaccine regimen used to be given only to health care workers, but starting in the early 1990’s it was incorporated into the standard childhood vaccine series in the U.S.
The Hepatitis B vaccine works to stimulate the production of antibodies that help the immune system target and destroy the Hepatitis B virus in the bloodstream. As we get older though our immune systems age too, and sometimes adults stop producing antibodies to this virus. If that happens, it’s as though a person were never vaccinated, and they could become infected with Hepatitis B.
For this reason health care workers who handle blood and body fluids are routinely tested, but it’s a good idea for anyone who’s ever had the vaccine to check themselves periodically.
What do the results mean?
A positive Hepatitis B immune titer (or level) means that your body is producing antibodies to the virus, either from prior vaccination or infection. You are considered immune and do not need a booster vaccination.
A negative result or an abnormally low titer means that you are no longer immune to Hepatitis B. If you were previously vaccinated against Hepatitis B, you should talk to a doctor about getting a booster immunization. But if you’ve never been immunized, you should consider getting the whole series of three vaccine injections.