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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. It is transmitted through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. Manifestations of the disease are highly variable, ranging from very mild forms that last only a few weeks to chronic forms with complications that can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis B tests can diagnose the presence of an acute or chronic liver infection, identify “healthy” carriers of the virus, detect all individuals who are protected by vaccination or a prior resolved hepatitis B infection, and much more.

The first tests used to diagnose the disease look for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg, or Australia antigen) in addition to antibodies produced by the body against this antigen (anti-HBs). Depending on the clinical situation, these tests will be followed by a measurement of HBeAg and anti-HBe antigen levels, associated with the patient’s infectiousness, or by a measurement of antibodies directed against a virus core particle (anti-HBc). In more complex cases, the total quantity of virus in the body (HBV DNA) can be measured. Refer to the sections concerning each of these tests.

Term of the Week

Predictive medicine

Medicine that links medical knowledge with data to predict a patient’s potential health problems. Examples include artificial intelligence and genetics.