Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted viral infection that can cause liver disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hepatitis B is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV. There are more than 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year. While hepatitis B is not exclusively an STD, it is commonly spread through sex. It is transmitted through contact with certain bodily fluids, including semen, vaginal fluids, blood and urine. While it is most commonly transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex, it can also be transmitted by sharing toothbrushes or razors (if they have infected blood on them from bleeding gums or nicks) or sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings or tattoos. It can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has been infected. Hepatitis is not spread through saliva, so you can’t contract it by kissing, sneezing, coughing or sharing food or drinks.
The most common strains of hepatitis are A, B and C. Of the three, hepatitis B is the strain most commonly transmitted through sexual contact. There is currently no cure for hepatitis, but it does usually go away on its own. However, in some cases, it can develop into something more severe or become a chronic infection. One in five people with chronic hepatitis B will die from complications resulting from the virus.
A hepatitis B vaccine is available. Many people are vaccinated at birth or during their childhood, which offers protection for a lifetime. However, many people are not vaccinated, and therefore not protected from hepatitis B. The vaccine is extremely effective at preventing the spread of hepatitis B, but you can’t get it if you already have hepatitis B. To help prevent the spread of hepatitis B, use condoms and dental dams.
Why Should I Order a Hepatitis B Test?
You should be tested for hepatitis B if you have had unprotected sex or think you’ve been exposed to the virus in any way. You might be thinking: If hepatitis B usually clears up on its own, what’s the point of getting tested? While hepatitis B usually does go away on its own, it’s important to know when and if you contract the virus so you and your doctor can closely monitor if the virus appears chronically. Chronic hepatitis can lead to serious complications that include cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. It’s also important to know if you have the virus so you can prevent passing it to partners and spare them the same risks.
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis B?
The most common symptom of hepatitis B is to exhibit no symptoms at all. About half of adults with hepatitis B never show symptoms. If symptoms do present, they can often be mild or feel like other illnesses, such as the flu or common cold. Symptoms of acute hepatitis C (which will go away as your body fights off infection) are the same as those of chronic hepatitis B, so there’s no way to tell if your infection is acute or chronic based on the symptoms alone.
When and if symptoms present, they usually show up between six weeks and six months after contracting the virus. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches
- Itchy skin
- Joint pain
- Dark-colored urine
- Pale, clay-colored bowel movements
How Long Should I Wait Before Getting Tested?
The incubation period for hepatitis B can be 45 to 160 days, so it’s recommend to wait until after this time to get tested to ensure the most accurate results. Hepatitis B testing screens for certain antibodies in the blood, so if you get tested before the necessary amount of antibodies have formed, it could cause the test to return a falsely negative result.
What Are the Benefits of a Hepatitis B Test?
The only way to know whether you have hepatitis B or not is to get tested. Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent hepatitis B from developing into serious liver health issues.
As soon as you decide to get hepatitis B testing, you can set up a testing appointment through Priority STD Testing online or over the phone. When ordering online, select the local testing center most convenient to you and the STD you’d like to test for to set up an appointment. If you call Priority STD Testing, our care counselors can set up the appointment for you, as well as answer any questions you may have. Once your appointment has been set up, all you have to do is show up at the testing center and give the required sample. The entire process takes less than 15 minutes. Your test results are processed within 24 to 72 hours. You can retrieve your results at any time after your hepatitis B testing by calling Priority STD Testing. In order to protect your privacy, we will not send results to you without you contacting us first.
At Priority STD Testing, we strive to make regular STD testing affordable, especially for individuals without insurance. We do not accept any form of private or federal health insurance, with the exception of allowing the use of health savings account (HSA) cards for payment. We do this so that your test results are not communicated to your insurance company and are not included as part of your medical record.
Peace of Mind
Hepatitis B can be deadly if it’s not detected early. Ordering hepatitis B testing is the only way to set your mind at ease and know if you either do not have hepatitis B or if you do and can begin treatment. Be proactive about your health, as well as the health of your partners, by getting tested.
How Do I Order a Hepatitis B Test?
Hepatitis B testing through Priority STD Testing can be ordered online or over the phone. Our care counselors are available over the phone to set up an appointment for you at a local testing center and answer your questions about hepatitis B or the testing process.