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Hepatitis B DNA Test

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KEY POINTS

  • The hepatitis B DNA test is a blood test used to see if antiviral therapy may work for your child and to check how well antiviral treatment is working if your child has a known chronic (long-term) hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
  • A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. In younger children, this test can be done with a finger prick or heel stick. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.
  • Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about what the test results mean and ask any questions you have.

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What is a hepatitis B DNA test?

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that is in all of the body’s cells. DNA provides the information that tells the body how to develop and work. The hepatitis B virus also contains DNA. The HBV DNA can bind to and enter the cells in your child’s body and make more of the virus DNA and virus protein. The HBV DNA test measures how much of the hepatitis B virus DNA is in your child’s blood. This is called the viral load.

Babies born to HBV-infected women can be infected even if they are immunized at birth and treated with HBIG (hepatitis B antibodies) if their mothers have high viral loads.

Why is this test done?

Hepatitis B is contagious and can be life-threatening. The HBV DNA test is not used to diagnose infection. The test is used to see if antiviral therapy may work for your child. And it is used to check how well antiviral treatment is working if your child has a known chronic (long-term) HBV infection.

How do I prepare my child for this test?

Usually no preparation is needed for this test.

How is the test done?

Having this test will take just a few minutes. A small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your child’s arm with a needle. In younger children, this test can be done with a finger prick or heel stick. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.

What does the test result mean?

A high viral load usually means that the virus is multiplying in your child’s body and certain antiviral medicines may not work well. It may mean that treatment is not working. A very low level of the hepatitis B virus means that certain medicines may work well for your child or that treatment is working well.

What if the test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about the result and ask questions such as:

  • If your child needs more tests
  • What kind of treatment your child might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes your child might need to make
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2018-07-25
Last reviewed: 2018-05-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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