• We use blood tests to check for hepatitis B.

  • Tests for hepatitis B are not part of normal blood tests - you have to ask.

  • If you test negative for hepatitis B, you should think about getting vaccinated.

You may feel healthy if you have hepatitis B, but it can still harm your liver. Over time this can cause cirrhosis (severe scarring) of your liver, liver disease or liver cancer.

The only way to know if you have hepatitis B is by having a blood test.

Tests to check for hepatitis B.

You need to ask your doctor to do a hepatitis B test. It is not part of normal blood tests done by your doctor. You need to ask for a special set of tests. You can show your doctor this resource on hepatitis B tests and how to make sense of the results: https://www.ashm.org.au/resources/HBV-Resources-list/decision-making-in-hbv/

To understand the tests described below, it might help to know these medical terms: 

Diagram says your immune system is the parts of your body that fight infections. Antigen is a foreign substance that can make the body’s immune system active. The hepatitis B virus is an antigen. Antibody is a protein the immune system makes to fight the antigen.

Diagram says: The immune system is sleeping. The antigen wakes up the immune system. The immune system makes an antibody to fight the antigen.

This table lists the types of blood tests your doctor will do to test for hepatitis B. It also shows you what it means if the result is positive.


What this shows

Meaning if positive

Hepatitis B surface antigen

This shows if you have hepatitis B right now.

You have hepatitis B now. If you have this for over 6 months, it is chronic.

Hepatitis B core antibody
(HBcAb or anti-HBc)

This shows if you have ever had hepatitis B

You have been exposed to hepatitis B, meaning you have it now or had it in the past.

Hepatitis B surface antibody
(HBsAb or anti-HBs)

This shows whether you are immune to hepatitis B

You cannot get hepatitis B again.

If you test negative to all these tests, you should ask your doctor about getting vaccinated.

If you have ever had hepatitis B, your family and the people you live with should also get tested for hepatitis B.

If you have hepatitis B now, you need to talk to your doctor. You'll also need to have check-ups every 6 to 12 months so you can get treatment if it starts to damage your liver.

Do you think you might have got hepatitis B recently? If so, there are tests that can work out if it is a short-term or long-term infection.


B Positive: Hepatitis B for Primary Care, ASHM

Hepatitis B Testing, Hepatitis NSW

Updated: 1 May 2023