MUMS tests for Hepatitis B.
An early detection test for the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) DNA from 10 days post potential exposure. This costs £45.00
You can choose to have Hepatits B testing at MUMS with the Health Care Assistant, which costs £25.00, or our GP's or Sexual Health Consultant which costs £85.00. If you choose to have your test with one of our Health Care Assistant's, then you will need a consultation with the GP or Sexual Health Consultant to have the results explained to you.
What is it?
Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver, which can follow a variable course. The Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause an acute illness that resolves itself quickly without causing long-term liver damage. However, in about 20% of cases it can cause a chronic illness that lasts more than six months, sometimes for life, with symptoms that come and go. In 15-40% of those with chronic infection cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure develops, so the infection may eventually be fatal.
How do you get it?
The virus is usually transmitted through contact with infected blood or body fluids. Only a tiny amount of blood is needed to transmit the virus because it is so infectious. The Hepatitis B virus may also be present in saliva, vaginal secretions, breast milk and other bodily fluids. Hepatitis B cannot be spread by toilet seats, door knobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bath tubs, shared clothing, or eating utensils.
In the UK, infection commonly occurs through sex without condoms, the sharing of contaminated needles by drugs users, accidental injury with a contaminated needle (if needles used for tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture are contaminated) and sharing razors.
There are often no symptoms for Hepatitis B. If symptoms do occur, they can include feeling tired, aches, nausea, vomiting, passing darker urine than usual and being jaundiced.
Times: Incubation, results and re-test
The incubation time and results turnaround time vary depending on which test is performed:
10 day Hepatitis B tests have an incubation period of 10 days. The results take three working days from when the sample is received in the laboratory.
The Surface Antigen Hepatitis B tests have an incubation period of 28 days. The results take four hours from when the sample is received in the laboratory.
Regular retesting is advised if you continue to be at risk. A repeat test is recommended with every partner change.
What to do if the test is positive
The majority of people with Hepatitis B do not need specific treatment.
However, it is important that the infection is monitored to check whether chronic disease develops, and the patient is given advice about the risk of passing the infection on. If the infection lasts more than six months (chronic hepatitis infection, where the virus continues to actively reproduce in the body) them the patient may need more specific drug treatment to reduce the risk of permanent liver damage (cirrhosis) and liver cancer.
If the infection lasts more than six months, then you will be referred to a liver specialist. There are different treatments available to suppress the virus. You should not have condomless sex until advised by your doctor.
There is an effective vaccination to protect people from Hepatitis B infection. It is available from MUMS doctors who will advise on your risk. Family and other household members of an infected person should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B. Healthcare workers, the police, the emergency services and anyone who is likely to come in contact with infected blood through their job should also be vaccinated.
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to Hepatitis B then please discuss this with our sexual health and HIV consultant and she may advise other tests that are relevant to you.