The Hepatitis B Immunity Test evaluates a person's need for hepatitis B vaccine and provides their immune status after receiving the hepatitis B vaccine. Healthcare professionals or people who are living with a person infected with hepatitis B must take care to be immunized against the virus to avoid becoming infected.
It is also possible for the vaccine to be ineffective in providing the number of antibodies needed to protect a person against the virus. The Hepatitis B Immunity Status test can determine whether a person's body is protected. Satisfactory levels of the hepatitis B antibody in the blood determine if a person is considered to be "immune" to the disease. An antibody titer test such as this does not distinguish between antibodies obtained via vaccination and those developed naturally through exposure to the disease.
What Is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver of an infected person. Most people develop an acute case of the virus that shows little to no symptoms. Any symptoms felt with acute hepatitis B tend to be mild in nature, and a person who recovers from the virus will develop antibodies to protect their body from becoming infected again.
Some cases of hepatitis B are chronic in nature. Chronic cases of the virus are more common in people who have an underdeveloped or weakened immune system. Babies and young children are most likely to develop a chronic case. People who have conditions that weaken their immune system including HIV are also at increased risk of contracting a chronic case of the virus.
Hepatitis B is spread through bodily fluids. Sexual contact and sharing needles can transmit the virus, and mothers may transmit hepatitis B to their babies during childbirth. Although the virus is spread through bodily fluids, hepatitis B is not spread from a mother to an infant through breast milk.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
Symptoms of hepatitis B do not always present themselves soon after a person contracts the virus. Many people never know that they have had the virus because they do not experience any symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that symptoms can actually take decades to develop if a person is infected with the chronic type of hepatitis B. Common symptoms of hepatitis B include extreme fever, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, jaundice, joint pain and muscle weakness. These signs can be short term in nature, or a person may experience symptoms for weeks or months.
Chronic cases of hepatitis B are more likely to show no symptoms, but damage to the liver of an infected person may be realized after years of living with a silent infection. Liver cancer, cirrhosis and liver failure occur in as many as 25 percent of people who are suffering from a chronic case of hepatitis B.
Prevalence of Hepatitis B
Approximately five percent of the population of the United States will be infected with hepatitis B at some point. Most of these cases are short term in nature, but there are currently over one million people in the U.S who are living with a chronic case of the virus.
Most adults who contract hepatitis B will make a full recovery from this virus. It is estimated the 90 percent of adults who are not at risk for developing complications recover from the virus and produce antibodies to protect against future infection. Children's bodies are not as successful in fighting the virus. About half of young children who contract hepatitis B will have a chronic case of the virus for life. Ninety percent of infants with hepatitis B will suffer from a chronic case.
Related Tests to Consider Through Health Testing Centers
Anyone who would like to ensure that the immunizations that they have received have successfully provided them with immunity against the associated disease may want to consider other immunity tests. Immunity tests that are available through Health Testing Centers include: