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Hepatitis Test

Getting tested for Hepatitis can be key to ensuring you're healthy. These tests will help diagnose Hepatitis A, B, and C.

Hepatitis A Test

Ensure your health by screening for Hepatitis A, a contagious liver infection transmitted through contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B Test

This test measures the hepatitis B surface antibody to determine immunity due to previous infection or vaccination.

Hepatitis C Test

This test checks for HCV antibodies in the blood.

Hepatitis testing

Hepatitis is a general term that refers to inflammation of the liver. This inflammation can be caused by many factors, including some STDs, or chronic alcoholism. Hepatitis can also occur with exposure to certain viruses. Common types of hepatitis include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Differences between hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C

There are three main types of hepatitis viruses:

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), and is highly contagious. According to the CDC, it commonly spreads through fecal-oral transmission; infected individuals can contaminate food and water sources if they do not practice proper hygiene techniques.

Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which infects the liver. HBV spreads through contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person, says the CDC, which can happen through sexual activity, by sharing drug injection tools, or through pregnancy & delivery.

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and can present as an acute (short term) or chronic (long term) infection. According to the CDC, HCV spreads only by direct contact with the blood of someone who is infected.

What's measured by a hepatitis test?

All three types of hepatitis are caused by three slightly similar viruses. A hepatitis test determines which type of hepatitis virus you have.

Testing for hepatitis can also determine if the infection is chronic or acute (recent). Testing also reveals how contagious an infected individual is, notes the CDC.

When should I get a hepatitis test?

It can be difficult to know if you should be tested for hepatitis, particularly because hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections often have no symptoms. To address this, the CDC has created universal testing recommendations.

When to get tested for hepatitis B

According to the CDC, you should be screened for hepatitis B if you are:

  • part of a special population, such as having been born in a country with a prevalence of hepatitis B greater than 2 percent
  • unvaccinated
  • HIV positive
  • on immunosuppressant medications
  • pregnant

However, the CDC is currently reviewing universal recommendations for hepatitis B testing, so hepatitis B testing may be expanded soon.

When to get tested for hepatitis C

The CDC recommends getting tested for hepatitis C if:

  • you're an adult over age 18: this universal screen should occur once a lifetime unless you live in an area where the prevalence of hepatitis C is very low (less than 0.1%)
  • you're a pregnant woman: this screen should occur with each pregnancy unless you live in an area where the prevalence of hepatitis C is very low (less than 0.1%)
  • you have recognized conditions or exposures to hepatitis C (such as having an organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1992, having been in close contact with someone with hepatitis C, having a sexually transmitted infection, or being a man who has sex with men)
  • you have ongoing risk factors (such as being HIV positive, receiving dialysis, having a job that exposes you to hepatitis, or injecting or inhaling illicit drugs)
  • you would like to request testing for any reason

What to expect with a hepatitis test

Hepatitis testing is performed by testing a patient's blood for either an active infection or antibodies from a prior infection.

Before the test

Patients generally do not need to prepare for hepatitis tests.

The CDC suggests that patients should inform their doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications they are taking, just as they would for any other blood test, although it is uncommon to have to modify medications prior to taking a hepatitis test.

During the test

During a hepatitis test, a healthcare provider will use a small needle to draw blood from your vein. Then, a bandage will be placed over the area where the needle was inserted. According to the CDC, a hepatitis test looks for indications in your blood that you have an active hepatitis infection, a chronic hepatitis infection, or a past hepatitis infection.

A hepatitis infection can be detected in your blood via two types of proteins, called antigens and antibodies.

Antigens are proteins that are present in the viral cells themselves. If antigens are detected in your blood, it means you have an active or chronic infection.

Antibodies are cells made by your immune system to help defend against viral invaders. If you have hepatitis antibodies present, it may mean you have an active infection, a past infection, or that you've received a hepatitis vaccine.

After the test

After a hepatitis test, like any other blood test, you will likely have a bandage placed over the draw site, but there are no restrictions on normal activities after a blood sample is collected.

It is advised to refrain from sexual activity until the test results are obtained.

If your test results show that you have an active hepatitis infection, you should visit your healthcare professional about your next measures to avoid transmitting the virus to others.

Hepatitis Test Results

If you test positive for hepatitis, it means that the blood specimen that your healthcare provider collected showed signs that you either have had hepatitis in the past or you currently have hepatitis, the CDC notes.

Sometimes, a vaccine will make you test positive for one hepatitis test, but all others will be negative.

According to the CDC, this means that you do not have a hepatitis infection and have not had one in the past. Hepatitis test results can be difficult to interpret, which is why it is essential that you discuss with your healthcare provider the meaning of your specific test results.

If you test positive for hepatitis infection, a healthcare provider may recommend further testing to get more information.

This may include another blood test, an imaging test, or a liver biopsy. Depending on your test results and overall medical history, you may need treatment with an antiviral medication.

These medications help you avoid complications of an untreated hepatitis infection, such as liver inflammation, liver cancer, or liver failure, according to the CDC.

When you are discussing treatment for hepatitis infection, a healthcare provider may refer you to a specialist who helps people manage this chronic condition.

It will be important to take the full course of any medications you're prescribed to ensure that your body has the tools it needs to fight the infection.

Your sexual partner or partners should also be informed that you are positive for hepatitis B or hepatitis C so that they can also get a hepatitis test and have access to treatment if needed.

How to get tested for hepatitis

If you have a primary care physician and have either active symptoms or a desire to be tested, your provider is likely to request the test on your behalf. The test might take place at a medical laboratory, hospital, doctor's office, or community health center.

If you are not under the care of a physician, a hepatitis test can be ordered for yourself through an online provider like Solv.

Once you've ordered the test online, you will be sent to a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-approved lab for your test, with a physician consultation made available to you following a positive test result.

Can I get a hepatitis test at home?

Some home tests will allow you to test for hepatitis B and C (along with other STDs), however, hepatitis A is not eligible for at-home testing in the U.S.

Additionally, the CDC does not recommend home tests for anyone who has active symptoms or who has had sexual contact with someone who has tested positive for hepatitis. This is because home tests will need to be sent to a laboratory, and results can take several days.

If you are at high risk for hepatitis, the CDC recommends that you be tested by a doctor near you so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible.

Cost of an hepatitis test

On average, the cost of hepatitis testing in the United States varies between $24 and $200. The cost variation depends on your location and insurance coverage. Combining hepatitis testing with other STI testing will raise the cost. Office visit fees and laboratory fees may also increase the cost.

More about hepatitis

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a generalized term that describes a condition that causes inflammation of the liver. There can be several causes of hepatitis, including alcohol-induced hepatitis, chemical-induced hepatitis caused by certain medications, or viral hepatitis.

In the United States there are three common types of viral hepatitis; hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

How is hepatitis transmitted?

Hepatitis A spreads commonly through fecal-oral transmission. Infected individuals can spread the virus by not properly washing their hands after visiting the restroom. Additionally, hepatitis A can contaminate community water sources---especially in developing countries.

Hepatitis B spreads through contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person. Commonly, this happens via sex or sharing drug injection tools.

Hepatitis C spreads with direct contact with the blood of someone who is infected. This can happen by sharing drug injection tools.

Hepatitis symptoms to watch out for

Hepatitis A symptoms

Per the CDC, most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms that develop around 28 days after infection. Children under six years old rarely have symptoms. Symptoms of hepatitis A include:

  • dark urine
  • diarrhea and stool that is gray- or clay-colored
  • fatigue
  • low-grade fever
  • abdominal or joint pain
  • nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
  • yellow eyes and skin, also called jaundice

Hepatitis B symptoms

  • dark urine
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • gray- or clay-colored stools
  • loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  • pain in the joints or abdomen
  • yellowish skin and eyes

Hepatitis C symptoms

While hepatitis C seldom produces symptoms, symptoms might appear one to three months after getting the infection, states the CDC. Some typical symptoms include:

  • dark yellow urine
  • fatigue or tiredness
  • fever
  • clay- or gray-colored stools
  • pain in the abdomen or joints
  • nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
  • jaundice or yellowish skin and eyes

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Hepatitis Testing FAQs

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about lab tests.

No test is 100% accurate, and the level of accuracy will depend on the type of test that is done. Hepatitis tests that are analyzed in a laboratory are 96% or more accurate, on average, reports the CDC.  If you receive a positive result but are not showing symptoms, your healthcare provider may request another test to confirm diagnosis.  False-negative results can happen if you are tested too soon after exposure, or if there has been an error in testing. False-positive results can happen in some tests after vaccination. 
On average, hepatitis testing costs in the United States range from $24 to $209, however, hepatitis testing costs will vary depending on your location and insurance coverage.  Combining multiple hepatitis tests or other [STD tests]( along with your hepatitis test will raise the cost. Office visit fees and laboratory fees may also raise the cost. With Solv, you can order a hepatitis B test for $99 and a hepatitis C test for as low as $59. Hepatitis testing is also included on an extended STD panel that tests for multiple STIs, for $349. 
No. Hepatitis is a liver infection and needs to be collected through a blood sample.
It's important to get tested for hepatitis so that you can begin treatment.  The CDC notes that in most cases of hepatitis C, treatment can get rid of the infection and prevent you from experiencing the consequences of an untreated hepatitis infection, such as liver failure, liver inflammation, or even liver cancer.  Treatment for hepatitis B can also help keep your liver healthy.
If you've had a sexual encounter with someone who has tested positive for hepatitis, it's important to know when to get tested.  The CDC advises that testing too early after the interaction can give you a "false negative" result, which means that your test will not show signs of hepatitis because not enough time has elapsed for the virus to become detectable.  Make sure to discuss your exposure timeline with your provider to ensure that you're testing within the appropriate window.
Yes. The majority of people with hepatitis do not have symptoms.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 67% of people living with hepatitis B do not know that they are infected, and 51% of people living with hepatitis C do not know that they're infected.

This publication is not intended to solicit the purchase of laboratory testing from any individual consumer.

Dr. Rob Rohatsch, MD

Updated on Jan 25, 2023

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rob Rohatsch, MD

Dr. Rob Rohatsch currently serves as Chief Medical Officer for Solv Health. Dr. Rohatsch brings his extensive background in multi-site ambulatory medicine operations, on-demand healthcare, and consumerism to Solv, where he helps drive strategic initiatives in a cross functional executive role. He brings comprehensive healthcare expertise ranging from medical group operations to revenue cycle management and clinical expertise.

Dr. Rohatsch completed his military service in the US Air Force and earned his MD from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Rohatsch served on the Yale School of Medicine faculty teaching at the medical school and is currently on faculty at the Haslam School of Business at the University of Tennessee teaching in the Executive MBA Program. He also serves on several boards and chairs The TJ Lobraico Foundation.

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