Hepatitis B Testing

A few different blood tests are available for hepatitis B, including the hepatitis B surface antibody test (anti-HBs) and the hepatitis B core antibody test (anti-HBc). These tests can show whether you've been infected with hepatitis B and also provide other related information.

An Overview of Testing for Hepatitis B

If, after a physical examination and medical history, your doctor suspects you are infected with hepatitis B, testing will be performed. Hepatitis B testing involves taking blood samples from you. Some of these tests will look at certain levels of liver enzymes in the blood. These are known as liver enzyme tests. Other tests will look for antibodies the body has made against the hepatitis B virus.
Some specific hepatitis B antibodies that will be studied include:
  • Hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs)
  • Hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc)
  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)
  • Hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg).


These blood tests will allow your doctor to see whether or not:

  • You have actually been exposed to the hepatitis B virus
  • The virus is multiplying
  • Your liver is damaged
  • You have a chronic infection.

Hepatitis B Antibody Tests Explained

The following sections take a closer look at the antibody tests your healthcare provider may use:
Hepatitis B Surface Antibody (Anti-HBs)
If the anti-HBs test is positive, it means that:
  • You have antibodies against hepatitis B and are safe from getting the disease
  • You were either vaccinated against hepatitis B or exposed to it at some point in your lifetime.
Hepatitis B Core Antibody (Anti-HBc)
If the anti-HBc test is positive, it means that:
  • You have been exposed to hepatitis B and have developed an antibody to only part of the virus
  • Your doctor will do more tests to find out if you have the disease because the presence of anti-HBc indicates previous or ongoing infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) in an undefined time frame.
Anti-HBc testing may also be specific for the IgM antibody (IgM anti-HBc). A positive IgM anti-HBc means you have been infected with the hepatitis B virus recently (within the last six months).

What Is Hepatitis B?

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