Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Hepatitis B Virus Tests

Hepatitis B Virus Tests

Test Overview

Hepatitis B tests are blood tests that show whether you have an active hepatitis B infection. The tests can also show if you had the infection in the past.

The tests look for different signs of infection:

  • Antigens, which are made by bacteria or viruses.
  • Antibodies, which are made by the body to fight infection.
  • Hepatitis B DNA, which is the virus's genetic material.

Hepatitis antibodies can take weeks or months to develop. So an infected person may test negative early in the infection.

Why It Is Done

Why It Is Done

You may need testing if:

  • You have symptoms of hepatitis.
  • You may have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus. You are more likely to have been exposed to the virus if you inject drugs, have many sex partners, or are likely to be exposed to body fluids (such as if you are a health care worker).
  • You've had other tests that show you have liver problems.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You or your doctor wants to know if you are protected from getting the disease.

The tests also are done to help your doctor decide about your treatment and see how well it's working.

How To Prepare

How To Prepare

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How It Is Done

How It Is Done

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

How It Feels

How It Feels

When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

Risks

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.

Results

Results

Abnormal (positive)

Hepatitis B testing

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B antibodies and/or antigens are found. More tests may be needed to see if you have an acute or chronic infection.

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen shows an active infection. If the test is positive for longer than 6 months, this means you have a chronic infection. You can spread the infection to others.
  • Hepatitis B surface antibody shows the end of active infection and means you are protected against hepatitis B for life. It also can show that you got a hepatitis B vaccination. In some cases, the test shows that you have antibodies and antigen. In this case you are still contagious.
  • Hepatitis B e-antigen shows an active infection. You can spread it to others.
  • Hepatitis B DNA means that you have a current infection.
  • Hepatitis B core antibody shows that you have been infected with hepatitis B. It does not tell the difference between a past or present infection.
  • Hepatitis B core antibody IgM shows that a hepatitis B infection has occurred within the last 6 months. It can also mean that a chronic infection has flared up.
  • Hepatitis B e-antibody shows a less active infection. You are less contagious but can still infect others.

The test may also find hepatitis D antibodies, which means you have hepatitis D. This infection occurs only in people who are already infected with hepatitis B.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Medical Tests: Questions to Ask the Doctor

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details