Hepatitis B Testing – Why It Is Smart to Get a Full Hepatitis Test

Hepatitis B testing is smart and should be done routinely. Reports show that over 1 million people in the U.S. have a chronic infection (that lasts a lifetime). Most do not know it. A lab-based hepatitis test is the only way to know whether or not a person has been infected.

WHAT IS HEPATITIS?

This is a common virus that attacks the liver in humans. Acute infections can be overcome and the body fights them without treatment. However, chronic infections can lead to liver cancer and liver failure. Three versions of this virus exist – “A”, “B”, and “C”. Though there is more than one way to come in contact with it, it is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This article discusses the “B” version. (Visit my other articles for more about “A” and “C”.)

HEPATITIS B:

Also called HBV, this disease is the most common in adults aged 20-49. It is spread from person to person in bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, fluids coming from open sores, vaginal secretions, and semen. Common ways to come in contact with Hepatitis B are through sexual activities, sexual intercourse, needles (tattoo, medical, or piercing needles), or razors (from people sharing razors).

Since it is considered an STD, anyone who is sexually active is at risk. Even if a person contracted the virus through a needle or a razor, they can spread it to their partner during sexual activities. Using condoms reduces the risk but it does not completely remove it because saliva is transferred from person to person during heavy kissing and it can be transmitted through saliva. The only way to avoid being exposed through sexual contact is by not engaging in any type of sexual activity at all, including kissing. A hepatitis test is the only way to know if a person has it. Engaging sexual activity with a person that has tested negative reduces the risk of transmission in this way.

Often times, people who are infected to not know it because they may not experience any symptoms. However, for those who do have symptoms, they report feeling like they have the flu. This means they feel tired, have a mild fever or headache, lose their appetite, have abdominal pain or diarrhea, and/or feel pain in their joints. Some people may have a light colored stool while others may have yellowish eyes or skin. If yellowing happens it is called jaundice and usually occurs after the other symptoms have disappeared. It is important to get a hepatitis test because it can be spread whether symptoms are present or not.

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