Hepatitis B

Your commonly answered questions about Hepatitis B.

Approximately 257 million people globally are positive for Hepatitis B. Having Hepatitis B carries a risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer with chronic infection. Most transmission occurs at the time of childbirth from mother to child through there are a number of risk factors for transmission. Hepatitis B vaccination provides effective protection against Hepatitis B infection.

Is Hepatitis B routinely recommended for STI testing?

We don’t routinely screen for hepatitis B as part of standard STI screening. Current Canadian guidelines recommend screening if you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis B and have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Exposure to someone with Hepatitis B through blood and/or bodily fluids

  • Engage in high-risk sexual activities (unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners)

  • Substance use with sharing of equipment

  • Use of shared or contaminated materials or equipment (i.e instruments/tools used for personal services procedures that have the potential to break the skin)

  • Use of shared or contaminated medical devices (i.e. glucometers)

  • Occupational exposure to blood/body fluids

  • Travel to/residence in endemic regions

  • Transfusion recipient/medical procedure in Canada before 1970

  • Incarceration

  • History of HIV or Hepatitis C

  • Born in a country with a high risk of Hepatitis B infection

Who should not be screened for Hepatitis B?

  • You are vaccinated and do not carry special risk status (see below)

  • You have a history of Hepatitis B infection

When should I be checked?

  • While there is no agreed-upon screening frequency, we recommend screening regularly in unvaccinated patients at least every 1-2 years with ongoing risk factor exposure.

Should I be screened if I am vaccinated against Hepatitis B? (Special Risk Status)

We recommend screening regardless of vaccination if you carry the following risk factors:

  • Are from areas where there is an intermediate (2%) > or higher risk of prevalence - see Referenced Map

  • Are currently pregnant

  • Require immunosuppressive therapy

  • Are a donor or plasma, semen, organs or tissue

  • Born to a mother with Hepatitis B

If you are concerned about a new Hepatitis B exposure and are seeking post-exposure prophylaxis, we recommend going to an emergency room and not using TeleTest.




General Questions

Can I add Hepatitis B to my requisition?

These tests are only added in certain situations. Most patients don’t have these tests requested. See the link for more information. https://docs.teletest.ca/hepatitis-b

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