Hepatitis B virus testing and interpreting test results


KEY POINTS

  • Opportunistic testing of people at risk of hepatitis B virus infection should be undertaken, particularly for people born in intermediate- and high-prevalence countries, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (1).
  • Testing for hepatitis B in a patient from a hepatitis B priority population aligns with the screening provisions of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (2) and presents an opportunity to diagnose, intervene and prevent illness and death.
  • Informed consent should be obtained before testing, and test results should be conveyed in a safe and culturally appropriate manner.
  • When testing for hepatitis B, the tests to be ordered are: hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), antibody to surface antigen (anti-HBs) and antibody to core antigen (anti-HBc). Positive HBsAg indicates current infection, positive anti-HBs indicates immunity (through vaccination or past infection), and positive anti-HBc indicates past or current infection (this test may occasionally give a false-positive result).

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