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getting tested for Hep B - best earliest test
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getting tested for Hep B - best earliest test

Hello everyone -
I think I may have had an exposure 5 weeks ago. What is the best test I can do now to see if I've picked up the virus? I've read different things (HBV DNA test, PCR test, antibody tests). Seems like the DNA is the earliest indicator? How long do I need to wait? I'm anxious and would really like to find out now.
Thanks for any insight you can provide.
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16 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
You may not have been exposed.  If you have, your test may show positive HBsAg and positive HBeAg now, you may have some acute symptoms.  Because you are adult now, you have 95% chance to clear HBV.  Be liver friendly (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-b/DS00398/DSECTION=10).  In 6 months, your tests, you hope, will show negative HBsAg, positive anti-HBc, positive anti-HBs, and positive anti-HBe, negative anti-HBc IgM.  You may never have to worry about DNA, etc.

Hope this helps.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for the reply. The HBsAg and positive HBeAg results you're describing sound like anitbody tests... am I right? My understanding is that these aren't really definitive as early as five weeks; more like three months or so.

I'm hoping not to have to wait six months to find out though. Would the DNA test (going to the doctors office on Monday) show definatively whether I'd picked up the virus or not?

Thank you!!
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Avatar_n_tn
P.S. -
I'm a pretty heavy drinker (although have taperd off considerably since the potential exposure). Would this hinder my bodies ability to clear the virus... assuming I had been exposed?
Thanks for your reply!
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Avatar_m_tn
"I'm a pretty heavy drinker...Would this hinder my bodies ability to clear the virus."

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!  Don't intentionally kill your liver when you so yearn to live, and live happily.

"My understanding is that these aren't really definitive as early as five weeks,"

You are right.  That's why you need to keep monitoring your liver.

"Would the DNA test show definatively whether I'd picked up the virus or not?"

Don't worry about DNA now.
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Avatar_n_tn
OK, thanks. But getting a bit more confused and worried now. I'll lay off the alcohol. But what do you mean by monitoring my liver? Other tests? Not sure if I have the virus or not at this point.

I know you say not to worry about a DNA test at this point... but if an antibody test won't show anything for a while, wouldn't the DNA test give me a good indicator if the virus is present before the body starts to fight it off?

I really want to get at least some initial indication now. I'll take the antibody test at 3 months or so... but until then?
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Avatar_m_tn
but until then?

Do you have a doctor following you?  That is step one.  If your HBsAg and HBeAg are negative, you don't have the virus now.  Just have your doctor follow you.  You do what are liver friendly and your body may clear HBV for you.
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Avatar_n_tn
No, I don't have a doctor following me yet. It's five weeks past my potential exposure. I have a doctor appt on Monday to talk about it.

I did a regular antibody test at about 3 1/2 weeks after exposure. And they said all three (believe surface antibody, surface antigen and e-antigen were negative). But I'm realizing now this test was meaningless because it was done too early... correct?

I was hoping, and still not understanding completely, that a DNA test would tell if the virus was present. If it were present, I would know and take care of myself and pray my body clears it. If it didn't show up, I would take care of myself and breathe a sigh of relief.

Is this reasonable? (Thanks for your patience with all this.)

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Avatar_m_tn
DNA test makes sense only when you are a confirmed HBV carrier.  Let us hope your HBsAg continues to be negative in which case you may ask your doctor if you need be vaccinated for HepB.
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Avatar_f_tn
If a person was to test after 3 months for HBsAg (virus) and was negative, how could one possibly be infected 3 months later?  If the virus isn't present, how could you still be infected?  Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question but I'm totally confused.  Thanks.
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Avatar_m_tn
You are right if your HBsAg stays negative you are not infected.  You may still be infected because you may have other exposures.  If you can be vaccinated then you can be immune for life.
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Avatar_f_tn
Okay, so you're saying that if I didn't have another exposure since my last one which was 2/1/08, I'm negative?  Hope I don't seem too ridiculous.
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Avatar_m_tn
You said, "they said all three were negative."

Please post your accurate results so that we do not misinform you.
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Avatar_f_tn
After 16 weeks after exposure, I had the following tests done:

HCV Ab w/Rflx to RIBA
HCV Ab - Negative

HBsAG Screen - Negative
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Avatar_m_tn
HBsAG Screen - Negative after 16 weeks after exposure, I think you are free of HBV.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your advice.
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Avatar_n_tn
According to the CDC, looks like negative HBsAg after 9 weeks of potential exposure is conclusive... unless I'm misunderstanding.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/b/faqb.htm#b7

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