Hepatitis is a type of liver disease. Viruses called hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are the most common causes of hepatitis. A hepatitis profile is a blood test that checks to see if you have a hepatitis infection caused by one of these viruses.
The viruses are spread in different ways and cause different symptoms:
- Hepatitis A is most often spread by contact with contaminated feces (stool) or by eating tainted food. Though uncommon, it can also be spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Most people recover from hepatitis A without any lasting liver damage.
- Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood, semen, or other bodily fluids. Some people recover quickly from a hepatitis B infection. For others, the virus can cause long-term, chronic liver disease.
- Hepatitis C is most often spread by contact with infected blood, usually through sharing of hypodermic needles. Though uncommon, it can also be spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Many people with hepatitis C develop chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
A hepatitis panel includes tests for hepatitis antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are proteins that the immune system produces to help fight infections. Antigens are substances that cause an immune response. Antibodies and antigens can be detected before symptoms appear.
You don't need any special preparations for a hepatitis panel.
A negative result means you probably don't have a hepatitis infection. A positive result may mean you have or previously had an infection from hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. You may need more tests to confirm a diagnosis. If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
A hepatitis panel is used to find out if you have a hepatitis virus infection.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
- The virus is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery, as well as through contact with blood or other body fluids, including sex with an infected partner, injection-drug use that involves sharing needles, syringes, or drug-preparation equipment and needle sticks or exposures to sharp instruments.
- WHO estimates that in 2015, 257 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection (defined as hepatitis B surface antigen positive).
- In 2015, hepatitis B resulted in an estimated 887 000 deaths, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (i.e. primary liver cancer).
- As of 2016, 27 million people (10.5% of all people estimated to be living with hepatitis B) were aware of their infection, while 4.5 million (16.7%) of the people diagnosed were on treatment. According to latest WHO estimates, the proportion of children under five years of age chronically infected with HBV dropped to just under 1% in 2019 down from around 5% in the pre-vaccine era ranging from the 1980s to the early 2000s.
- Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccines that are safe, available and effective.
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