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The hepatitis virus panel is an array of tests used to detect viral hepatitis infections. It can distinguish between current and past infections.
The viral panel uses antibody and antigen tests, which allows it to detect multiple kinds of viruses simultaneously. Antibodies are proteins made by your body’s immune system to fight against harmful substances. Antibodies react to proteins known as antigens. Antigens may be from fungi, bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Each antibody recognizes a specific type of antigen. It can also distinguish between current and past infections.
Your doctor may recommend a hepatitis viral panel if you have symptoms of hepatitis, such as:
The viral panel is used to:
The test may also be performed to detect:
Your doctor will need to take a sample of blood from your arm.
To do this, they’ll clean the site with a swab of rubbing alcohol and insert a needle into a vein that’s attached to a tube. When enough blood has collected in the tube, the needle is removed. The site is covered with an absorbent pad.
If the blood sample is being taken from an infant or young child, the doctor will use a tool called a lancet. This pricks the skin and may be less frightening than a needle. The blood will be collected on a slide and a bandage will cover the site.
The blood sample goes to a laboratory for analysis.
If your results are normal, you don’t have hepatitis and have never been infected with hepatitis or been vaccinated for it.
If your blood sample tested positive for antibodies, it may mean a few things:
As with any blood test, there are minimal risks. You may experience minor bruising at the needle site. In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after blood is drawn. This condition, known as phlebitis, can be treated with a warm compress several times each day.
Ongoing bleeding could be a problem if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin.
There are no special preparations necessary for this test. You should inform your doctor if you are taking any blood thinning medications. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain medications.
Whether you are contagious depends on which virus you are infected with and how long you’ve been infected. It’s possible to spread viral hepatitis even when you don’t have symptoms.
If you’ve been diagnosed with HAV, you’re contagious from the beginning of your infection up to two weeks.
If you have HBV or HCV, you will be contagious for as long as the virus is present in your blood.
Depending on your results, your doctor will decide the correct course of action.
Written by: Corinna Underwood
Medically reviewed on: Feb 01, 2016: George Krucik, MD, MBA
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