Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) IgM


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is Anti-Hepatitis B core antigen (AHBc) IgM?

Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC)IgM is an investigative procedure to detect the presence of IgM antibodies in the blood.  This blood test is the most important marker to detect if the presence of the Hepatitis B virus. During the active stage of HBV infection, the immune system produces IgM antibodies and they can be found in the blood after several weeks of infection. The blood of those vaccinated will not contain IgM antibodies.

Does this test have alternative titles?

The Hepatitis B core antigen IgM blood test is also known with alternative titles such as IgM anti-HBc, HBcAb tests.

What is the Hepatitis B virus and what causes its transmission?

The Hepatitis B virus consists of five types names as A, B, C, D and E. These viruses target the liver. The spread of hepatitis B infection takes place through contact with contaminated bodily fluids such as blood, seminal fluid and vaginal secretions. While the virus cannot spread through mere touch, sneezing or coughing, HBV can spread to others through the use of contaminated needles, illegal drugs, and unprotected sex. An infected mother can pass on the infection to her unborn baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Most patients complain of symptoms of Hepatitis only several weeks after the infection.

What are some of the severe complications of Hepatitis B infection?

Chronic Hepatitis B infection in both children and adults can lead to health complications such as acute damage to liver cells, cirrhosis, and cancer. The virus can take as long as six months to be eliminated from the system, although in many cases, especially among new-borns, the infection continues to remain.

What is the most challenging aspect of Hepatitis B infection?

Hepatitis B can very easily escape diagnosis, as most victims do not know they are suffering can spread the disease. This is because symptoms are almost negligible during the onset of hepatitis B infection.  Although the infection is treatable and largely preventable, yet early diagnosis can go a long way in the better prognosis of the condition. Further, even though there are good treatment options for hepatitis B, close to a million people with the infection do not make it.
Asian countries portray a high prevalence of hepatitis B. This infection is very common among high-risk groups such as people with multiple sex partners,  homosexuals, injection drug users or people staying lose to victims of Hepatitis B.

How is Hepatitis B diagnosed?

The only method to detect the presence of hepatitis B infection is through blood tests. The hepatitis B panel test includes three parts – HBsAg (Hepatitis B surface antigen),anti-HBs or HBsAb (Hepatitis B surface antibody), and anti-HBc or HBcAb (Hepatitis B core antibody)  and is the most reliable way to detect the virus. The test results will indicate the absence or presence of a current or past Hepatitis B infection.

Do I really need to undergo this test?

Some of the overriding reasons your doctor has advised this test for you could be the following:

– Risk category of hepatitis B infection (frequent blood transfusions, sharing needles, homosexuality, multiple sex partners, in close proximity with hepatitis B victim, children born to infected mothers,etc.)

– Suspicions of a liver infection

– Contact with infected people or contaminated fluids

– Symptoms of hepatitis B infection such as fever, abdominal pain, extreme tiredness, nausea, reduced appetite or discolored urine

What are the other tests that could be ordered along with this test?

The intent is to spot and detect the type of hepatitis B virus since the symptoms of all five types of hepatitis infection are more or less similar. Therefore, you will be asked to undergo all the blood tests to clear any ambiguity.

Is there anything else I should know?

Before the test, it is important to discuss all the medicines you are on which include herbs, vitamins, and supplements. Incase, you are on any illicit drugs, it should be communicated to your doctor.

How is this test performed?

It is a very simple procedure of drawing blood samples from your vein in the hand or arm. A technician or doctor can perform this test in a laboratory.

First, an elastic band is tied around your forearm to help spot the vein
Next, the site is disinfected using a sterile solution

A needle is inserted and blood is drawn into the attached tube

Once the blood sample is drawn, the needle is pulled out. A cotton swab is pressed against the site to avoid excessive bleeding

The sample is sent to the laboratory for testing

Even though it is a simple procedure, in very rare cases patients do report lightheadedness, excessive bleeding or bruising. This should settle down in a few hours.

Any factors I should be aware of that can alter the test results?

As long as your doctor knows about your medical history, rest assured no major factors can influence your test results.

What do my test results mean?

Your age, gender, and medical history will also be factors that will come into play for the results of the test. Your healthcare provider is the best person who can help you with decoding your test results.

If the result is Non-reactive or Negative, it indicates the absence of Hepatitis B core IgM antibodies in the blood. It means there is no recent or earlier HBV infection in the blood.

If your test result is positive, it shows the presence of acute hepatitis B infection. The IgM anti-HBcshows up in the blood at about the same time symptoms manifest. The time taken to completely recover from this infection is about 06 months; this also means that you will develop immunity from the HBV virus. Therefore, you will not contribute to the spread of the infection.

Doctors recommend a followup of blood tests for hepatitis after 6 months. In case, you do not recover in 6months, then it is a far greater problem as the virus stays in the blood. It can damage the liver as well as spread the infection to others.

How is hepatitis B treated?

Treatment for hepatitis B will depend on the severity of the condition. The treatment will be based on antiviral medications as well as lifestyle modifications underlying safer practicesduring sex and preventing exposure tothe virus.

What are some of the proven ways to prevent Hepatitis B?

Healthcare providers stand by vaccination as a reliable prevention measure known to be effective to all age groups- adults, infants, and children. Therefore, close family members and sexual partners of infected persons must get tested and avail HBV vaccination to protect themselves.

Medications have also been in use to prevent chronic HBV infection. Additionally, the power of vaccination of sexual partners and close family people cannot be overemphasized in aiding protection against the disease. Apart from vaccination, a few pointers to prevent hepatitis B Infection:

– Always make sure needles used for acupuncture, body piercing, tattoos, and ear piercing are sterile.

– Sanitary napkins and tampons need to be disposed of in a hygienic manner.

– Adopt effective hygiene upon exposure to contaminated blood like washing your hands well using soap.

– Avoid exposure of wounds to contamination.

– Avoid direct contact with blood and bodily fluids.

– Do not have unprotected sex.

– Stay away from illegal or street drugs.

Are pregnant women advised Hepatitis B blood tests? 

Doctors usually advise all pregnant women to undergo the Hepatitis B blood test. This is because the HBV blood test can evaluate if you have suffered HBV in the past. It can show if you have developed immunity to HBV.

What is the cost of the Anti-Hepatitis B core Antigen (AHBc) IgM test in India?

The price of this blood examination is usually between INR 1000 to 1200, although it varies according to the diagnostic laboratory and location.


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