Hepatitis B Rapid Private Test

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By Niadawe I. I.


Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that attack the liver  and causes liver damage. HBV can be acute or chronic  and the infection may range from no symptoms or mild disease to severe hepatitis. Acute hepatitis is usually self-limiting disease with acute inflammation of the liver and liver cell necrosis. Chronic hepatitis B infection is characterised by  persistent HBV infection i.e., the presence of detectable hepatitis B surface antigen in the blood longer than six months. Hepatitis B is potentially life-threatening infection as it can cause chronic infections and put people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis B is  a major public health problem.

In 2015, it was estimated that 257 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B virus and as of 2016, only 27 million (10.5%) were aware of their infection. In Ghana, HBV infection in the general population is 12.3% with the highest infection prevalence found within the age group 16-39 years. Prevalence in the rural areas (13.3%) is higher compared to the urban (12.2%).

Screening test for hepatitis B is very important as hepatitis B can be prevented through safe and effective vaccination.

Transmission of HBV

  • Hepatitis B is commonly transmitted from mother to child at birth. It can also be transmitted from an infected child to uninfected child during the first 5 years of life.
  • Through needle stick injury.
  • Through tattooing.
  • Piercing and exposure to infected blood  and body fluids such as saliva, and menstrual, vaginal and seminal fluids.
  • Sexual transmission particularly in unvaccinated men who have sex with men and heterosexuals with multiple sex partners.
  • Through injecting drugs.
  • Through the use of contaminated razors.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B infection

Most newly infected  persons do not show any symptoms. Symptoms that last several weeks  include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes(jaundice).
  • Dark urine.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Sometimes, acute liver failure leading to death.

Who should test for hepatitis B infection?

High risk groups can be screened for hepatitis B surface antigen and those at risk and not immune can be vaccinated. The following people should take a screening test for hepatitis B:

  • Households and sexual contacts of persons with chronic hepatitis B.
  • HIV infected persons.
  • Persons who inject drugs.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Sex workers.
  • Prison inmates.
  • Transgender persons.
  • Blood and organ donors.


What Is A Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test For?

The Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) Test permits you to accurately check for the presence of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen in a finger prick blood sample. The presence of this antigen which is a protein found on the surface of the hepatitis B virus is used to identify the virus.

Understanding your hepatitis B finger prick test result

A positive (Reactive) test indicates that you have the hepatitis B virus in your blood. This means that you are infected with Hepatitis B and can spread the virus to other people via your blood. A positive test should be followed by further testing to determine if this is a new acute infection or a chronic hepatitis B infection.

A negative (Non-reactive) test result indicates that you do not have the virus in your blood and therefore should take the hepatitis B vaccine shot if you are not immune.