HBSaG and Viral Load Tests
Testing for the virus – Do I still have the virus?
An HBSaG test is the main test you get to see whether you currently have either an acute or chronic hepatitis B infection. This ‘indicator’ of hepatitis B disappears as your body clears the virus. This test may also provide an ‘indicator’ of how infectious the virus is in your system. This ‘indicator’ is called a hepatitis B e Antigen. If the HBSaG test is positive then you have either an acute or chronic hepatitis B infection. After 6 months you would be tested for these ‘indicators’ again. If the test comes back positive once more then your immune system has not been able to get rid of the virus and you have a chronic infection.
If you have a chronic infection, the amount of HBeAG (the indicator of infectiousness) in your body will remain high. However, this can decrease and increase throughout your infection and will have to be regularly monitored.
Viral Load Tests/HBV DNA Tests – how much virus?
A hepatitis B DNA test (HBV DNA) measures how much of the virus is currently in your blood. This will be given after you are diagnosed with a chronic infection to find out how much virus you have in your body.
The amount of virus in a tiny measurement of your blood is counted and recorded.
You will be tested regularly for Hepatitis B DNA to measure how much virus is in your body. The larger the amount of virus the more likely it is to lead to liver damage. If you have a large amount of the virus in your body (a high viral load) then you may be put onto anti-viral treatment to stop the virus from replicating (progressing further) and causing damage to the liver. You will have to have regular viral load tests throughout treatment so doctors can check how you’re responding.