Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic diseases. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through contact with infectious blood or body fluids and is an important occupational risk for healthcare workers. Vaccination is the best protection against hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis B surface antibody (HBsAb) test is an important blood test that checks for immunity to hepatitis B.
Understanding Hepatitis B Surface Antibody (HBsAb) Test
The HBsAb test looks for antibodies in the blood that are produced in response to the surface antigen of the hepatitis B virus. The surface antigen is located on the outer envelope of the virus and is the portion that triggers an antibody response.
When someone is infected with the hepatitis B virus, the immune system produces antibodies to help clear the virus from the body. The antibodies attach to the surface antigen and help destroy infected cells. The antibodies remain in the blood to provide immunity against future hepatitis B infection. This is known as a positive antibody response.
If the HBsAb test detects antibodies in the blood, it means the person has developed immunity to hepatitis B, either through natural infection or vaccination. A positive antibody test means the person is protected from the virus. If no antibodies are detected, it means the person is still susceptible to hepatitis B infection.
The HBsAb test is an important way to evaluate:
- Vaccine response – The test is done 1-2 months after completion of the hepatitis B vaccine series to confirm immunity. A positive result means the vaccines successfully triggered an antibody response.
- Previous infection – A positive test means the person had a past hepatitis B infection that triggered antibody production. This provides natural immunity against reinfection.
- Susceptibility – A negative result in someone not vaccinated against hepatitis B means they are still susceptible to infection. Additional vaccination may be recommended.
Uses Of Hepatitis B Surface Antibody (HBsAb) Test
There are several clinical situations where the HBsAb test is useful:
The HBsAb test is commonly used to check for immunity after vaccination against hepatitis B. The hepatitis B vaccine is given as a 2-3 dose series. Testing 1-2 months after the final dose determines if the person developed a protective antibody response.
– If results are positive, no further vaccination is required. The person is immune.
– If results are negative, additional vaccine doses may be given to try to trigger antibody production. Sometimes people do not build immunity even after additional doses. In that case, they are referred to as “non-responders.”
?Testing in Pregnancy
Pregnant women are usually screened for hepatitis B infection. Those who test negative are given the hepatitis B vaccine series. The HBsAb test is then done 1-2 months after vaccination to confirm immunity was achieved. This prevents transmitting the infection to the baby during childbirth.
Some medical therapies like chemotherapy and organ transplant drugs suppress the immune system. Before starting these treatments, the HBsAb test checks for past hepatitis B infection or vaccine-induced immunity. Those with negative results need hepatitis B vaccination for protection.
?Blood and Organ Donation Screening
Blood banks and organ transplant programs screen all donations for hepatitis B using the HBsAb test. Only HBsAb-positive blood or organs are used. This prevents transmitting hepatitis B to recipients through transfusion or transplant.
When healthcare workers have a needlestick exposure to hepatitis B-infected blood, they are given the HBsAb test. Those who test negative are given hepatitis B immune globulin and vaccination for protection. Testing after completion confirms if immunity was achieved through the post-exposure prophylaxis treatment.
During a hepatitis B outbreak, the HBsAb test helps public health officials assess susceptibility. Testing exposed people identifies those lacking immunity so they can be prioritized for vaccination to prevent further spread.
The hepatitis B surface antibody test is a simple blood test that determines if someone has immunity to hepatitis B infection. Antibodies detected mean the person is protected through previous infection or vaccination. Negative results indicate susceptibility and a need for immunization. The HBsAb test guides vaccination requirements and assesses the effectiveness of hepatitis B vaccines.
It also assists in screening blood donations, transplant organs, and pregnant women to prevent transmission of the hepatitis B virus. Widespread hepatitis B vaccination supported by HBsAb testing helps reduce the incidence of acute and chronic liver disease caused by this viral infection.
A: A positive HBsAb test result means antibodies against the hepatitis B surface antigen are detected in the blood. This indicates immunity through previous natural infection or vaccination.
A: A negative HBsAb test means no hepatitis B surface antibodies are detected in the blood. This indicates the person is still susceptible to hepatitis B infection.
A: The HBsAb test should be done 1-2 months after completing the hepatitis B vaccine series to confirm a protective antibody response was developed.
A: No, a positive HBsAb test confirms immunity to hepatitis B. No additional hepatitis B vaccination is required once antibodies are detected.
A: Those with negative HBsAb tests indicating hepatitis B susceptibility should receive the hepatitis B vaccine series. This includes people undergoing immunosuppressive therapy, healthcare workers, dialysis patients, and sex partners of infected persons.