Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) Total

antihepatitis core antigent

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

Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC ) is a diagnostic blood examination and the only serological marker of infectious blood with HBV infection. Anti-HBc indicates the presence or absence of a current or past Hepatitis B infection.

Total hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) is identified during the start of symptoms in the case of acute hepatitis. An anti-HBc total antibody that comprises all the classes of antibodies is a very significant marker of past HBV infection.

It is possible to detect Anti-HBc total antibodies even before anti-HBs and this continues to remain positive even after the disappearance of IgM class anti-HBc. Also, if no other information is present about other HBV markers, and if the test result shows evidence of anti-HBc, then it is interpreted either as an active HBV infection or that the infection got resolved leaving the person immune.

It is not possible to find out from the Anti-HBc result if the infection is chronic, although anti-HBc should not be detected among vaccinated people that have not experienced HBV prior to vaccination.

Does this test have other names?

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

What is Hepatitis B virus or HBV?

The Hepatitis B virus has an envelope that surrounds a central core. The immune system creates IgM antibodies to the core of HBV when the infection is in its active stage. The Hepatitis B core IgM antibodies can be found in the blood only after many weeks of being infected with HBV virus. Those who have received the Hepatitis B vaccination will not have the core antibody in their blood.

There are five hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, D and E which are responsible for most of the hepatitis infections that attack the liver. The HBV virus is transmitted through vaginal secretions, blood, and seminal fluid. The symptoms of Hepatitis B show up anywhere from 60 to 150 days following the infection.

Statistics show that it takes about 6 months for the virus to completely clear. Although in cases of chronic infection in few adults and more numbers of children, the infection never really goes away. This is seen more often among newborns. Chronic infection can lead to other liver complications such as damage to the liver cells, cancer or liver cirrhosis.

How does Hepatitis B spread?

Hepatitis B happens to be one of the most common chronic liver infections in the world. The hepatitis B virus targets the liver and causes the infection. The spread of Hepatitis B occurs after direct contact with contaminated blood or bodily fluids.  HBV can spread to others in the following ways:

– Intravenous injection of illegal drugs
– To the newborn baby through an infected mother during pregnancy or childbirth
– Contaminated needles
– Contact with infected blood
Unprotected sex

Hepatitis B is not spread by sneezing, coughing, sharing food or hugging.

Why is Hepatitis B labeled as a silent epidemic?

Diagnosis of Hepatitis B is a huge challenge mainly because most victims are unaware of being infected with HBV. This is because, during the initial stages of the infection, victims do not experience any symptoms. That is why Hepatitis B is called a silent epidemic. The infection may spread very quickly before diagnosis takes place. Untreated HBV for a prolonged period can lead to cancer of the liver or even cirrhosis. It is possible to prevent Hepatitis B with some care and effort. This condition can also be treated effectively.

Which blood tests are used to diagnose Hepatitis B infection?

It is extremely important to ascertain the presence of Hepatitis B with blood tests. Blood tests are the only way to detect this condition.  A very simple blood test is used to detect the presence of Hepatitis B
There are three parts to a Hepatitis B blood test labeled as the Hepatitis B panel test.

They are – HBsAg (Hepatitis B surface antigen),anti-HBs or HBsAb (Hepatitis B surface antibody)  and anti-HBc or HBcAb (Hepatitis B core antibody).

Hepatitis B core antibody test can be completely interpreted only after ascertaining the results of the first two tests that form part of the Hepatitis B panel test. Anti-HBc (or HBcAb) test result will show the presence or absence of a current or past Hepatitis B infection. The core antibody is not protective against the Hepatitis B virus.

Why do I need this test?

If you have exhibited symptoms of Hepatitis B or if your doctor suspects you have a liver infection, the Hepatitis B tests may be ordered for you.

Further, you may be asked to undergo this test either if you are at risk of Hepatitis B infection from your medical history or if you have been in contact with others afflicted with the condition. Symptoms of Hepatitis B usually manifest very slowly. In some cases, victims do not exhibit any symptoms other than mild flu until the infection becomes severe. You may need to undergo the Hepatitis B core antibody test if you experience any of the following symptoms:

– Severe fatigue
– Pain in the abdomen
– Fever
– Loss of appetite
Yellow eyes and skin
– Nausea
– Muscle aches
– Discolored urine, dark in color

Further, you may need to undergo this test if you are in the following risk category

– Staying close with someone suffering hepatitis B
Occupation in a healthcare center and exposed to blood
– Sexual relations with a Hepatitis B victim
– Homosexuality
-Children born to mothers suffering from Hepatitis B
– Sharing needles for intravenous, or IV, drug use
– Frequent blood transfusions

What other tests could be ordered along with this test?

You may be asked to undergo all other blood tests that detect the presence of HBV. These blood examinations are equipped to detect the presence of antigens on the core, surface and enveloping the virus. The anti-hepatitis B core antigen blood test is performed along with other blood tests to know the type of hepatitis virus since the symptoms of all five hepatitis infections are pretty much the same.

Is there any preparation required for these tests?

This test does not require any preparation except that your healthcare provider should know about all the medicines you take including herbs, supplements, and vitamins. If you are on medicines that do not need a prescription or are taking any illicit drugs, do inform your doctor.

How is this test performed?

A blood sample is drawn from a vein in your hand or arm using a needle and this sample is used for the test.

Is this test risky?

Although a very simple procedure, there is a minor risk of infection, bleeding, feeling faint or even bruising. The site where blood is drawn can be sore for a few hours.

Are there any factors that can influence my test results?

There are no significant factors that can alter the test results.

What do my test results mean?

The results of the test depend upon medical history, gender, age, as well as the testing method. It is best to consult your healthcare provider to interpret the test results.

If the Total Anti-HBc result is Non-reactive or Negative, it implies the absence of Hepatitis B core IgM antibodies in the blood. It shows that there has been no previous or recent HBV infection in your blood. If your test result is Positive or Reactive, it points to the presence of HBV infection in the blood.

It takes about 6 months to recover completely from the Hepatitis B infection. Recovery in 6 months also means you have developed immunity from the Hepatitis B virus and you will not spread the infection to others.

The problem occurs if you do not recover in 6 months, then the virus stays in the blood and is prone to cause problems in the liver. You can also pass on the infection to others.

How can I prevent Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B vaccine is extremely safe, effective and is proven to offer protection to adults, children, and even infants worldwide. Drug therapies also help in the prevention of chronic Hepatitis B infection.
It is important to test and vaccinate all close family members and sexual partners of an infected person.

Proven ways to prevent hepatitis B

Apart from vaccination, some of the other methods to stop the spread of hepatitis B are as follows:

– Protect yourself from direct contact with bodily fluids and blood
-Clean your hands thoroughly using soap if there has been any exposure to contaminated blood
– Always use condoms during sexual activity with partners
– Make sure all wounds and cuts are covered
– Always ensure hygienic disposal of tampons and sanitary napkins
– Keep away from illegal drugs and those sold on the streets
– Ensure use of sterile needles for tattoos, body piercing, ear piercing and acupuncture

Can pregnant women undergo Hepatitis B blood tests? 

All pregnant women are tested for Hepatitis B to ascertain the presence of the hepatitis B virus. The test can also indicate the presence of hepatitis virus in the past and if you have developed immunity to it.

What is the incidence of Hepatitis B in the world?

Hepatitis B is prevalent worldwide and is very common in Asian countries. Nearly 0.5% of adults in North America suffer Chronic HBV infection. Hepatitis B is very common among high-risk groups that include homosexuals, those who have multiple sex partners, injection drug users, or among those that have sexual relations with HBV infected people, or are living with a Hepatitis B carrier. Even though Hepatitis B is treatable, nearly 1 million people do not survive Hepatitis B

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

The price of this blood examination in Indiacan vary according to the diagnostic laboratory and location. The price estimate for the AHBc test is about  Rs 1100.

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