Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. It has different types, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Each type is caused by certain medical conditions, viral infections, excessive alcohol use, and toxins. Hepatitis can also be categorized as either acute or chronic. Fortunately, medications are available to help treat this condition.
How is hepatitis diagnosed? Here are things you need to know when it comes to screening for each hepatitis type:
Hepatitis A Screening
Hepatitis A is diagnosed through a form of testing that involves the usage of a blood sample to test it for antibodies against the hepatitis A virus. The procedure is just like any other form of a blood test, where blood is drawn using a small needle inserted into a vein. Once the sample is available, it is then sent to the laboratory for analysis.
There are two main types of hepatitis A tests. These include IgM anti-HAV antibody test and IgG anti-HAV antibody test or total antibody test. Each of them is performed through the same procedure. Here’s a sample of hepatitis A test results using these test types.
|Hepatitis A Test Results|
|IgG Anti-HAV Antibody Test||IgM Anti-HAV Antibody Test||Diagnosis|
|Not performed||Positive||Acute Hepatitis A infection|
|Positive||Negative||No active infection|
|Positive||Not performed||Exposed to the infection but not ruled out as acute|
|Negative||Not performed||No infection|
Hepatitis B Screening
Hepatitis B is a condition that causes the development of liver cancer. It can range from a mild disease to a chronic medical illness. Like other types of hepatitis, this particular type can also emerge without the appearance of symptoms. Fortunately, a vaccine is available to prevent such an infection.
Who should be screened for hepatitis B? Consider the following:
- People who are active sexually (men who have sex with men, people with multiple sexual partners, people at risk for STDs)
- People at risk for infection by exposure to blood (people who engage in injected drugs, public health workers at risk for occupational exposure to infection)
- Pregnant women
- Infants born to Hepatitis B-positive mothers
- People with HIV
- People who donate blood, organs, tissues, and semen
Testing for hepatitis B is similar to hepatitis A. A blood sample is taken from a patient and have it tested in the laboratory. This test, however, has three parts. They are needed to fully understand the status of a person. Consider the following:
- HBsAg – A positive result that means the person is infected with hepatitis B.
- Anti-HBs or HBsAb – A positive anti-HBs test result that indicates that a person is protected against the infection.
- Anti-HBC or HBcAb – A positive test result that indicates a past or current infection.
Hepatitis C Screening
Hepatitis C screening involves using an HCV antibody test that checks if someone has been infected with the hepatitis C virus. Also called an anti-HCV test, this looks for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus in the blood. Here are what the test results mean.
- Non-reactive – A negative test result that explains you are not infected with the virus.
- Reactive – A positive test result that explains an active hepatitis C infection.
When your test result is positive, an additional test is necessary called NAT (nucleic acid test). It is also called a PCR test.
When the result comes back positive, you need to start taking the medication immediately to prevent the development of complications triggered by the hepatitis C virus.