The tests for hepatitis B may be ordered individually but are often ordered in some combination, depending on the reason for testing. The results of the tests are typically evaluated together. Sometimes the meaning of one result depends on the result of another test. However, not all tests are performed for all people (American Association for Clinical Chemistry, 2019).
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) antigens are proteins that appear in different areas of the virus. HBV has three antigens (surface, core, and e), some of which can be detected in the blood. The body’s immune response produces antibodies tailored to each type of antigen (surface antibody, core antibody, and e antibody), which can also be detected from a blood test. The basic blood test for hepatitis B consists of three screening tests. First, the hepatitis B surface antigen test, which determines whether a person currently has the infection. Second, a hepatitis B core antibody test, which determines whether a person has ever been infected. Lastly, a hepatitis B surface antibody test, which determines whether a person has cleared the virus after infection, or has been vaccinated and is now immune to future infections.
The hepatitis B core antibody screening test detects the presence of antibodies to the HBV core antigen. The antibody appears in the blood within a few weeks of HBV infection. A positive result means the person has been infected with HBV, but it does not specify whether the person has cleared the virus, still has the infection, or is immune to reinfection. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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