Blood testing

Common markers for diagnosis and assessment of viral hepatitis

MarkerClinical interpretation for a positive result
Anti-HAVPast or present infection with hepatitis A virus (HAV) or vaccination against HAV
HBsAgPresence of hepatitis B virus infection
HBeAgActive replication of hepatitis B virus in an infected person; Marker of high infectivity
Anti-HBsProtection from hepatitis B virus infection acquired by recovery from infection or vaccination
Anti-HBeLow replication of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in an infected person if viral load is low;
Infection with HBV variants if viral load is high
Anti-HBcPrevious or ongoing natural infection with hepatitis B virus
Anti-HCVActive or past hepatitis C virus infection
Anti-HDVAcute or chronic infection with hepatitis D virus
Anti-HEVPast or present infection with hepatitis E virus

Sampling methods

To diagnose hepatitis virus infection, a test for virus and immunity markers is normally performed on a blood sample, which can be collected by venepuncture or fingerstick.

  • Venepuncture sampling
    Venepuncture is a common way to collect blood from adults. Blood collection usually takes place from a superficial vein in the upper limb. The venepuncture procedure is performed by medical professionals or trained phlebotomists.
  • Fingerstick sampling
    Fingerstick sampling involves taking a small amount of blood from the end of a finger by using a lancet. Blood can be collected into a microtube or spotted onto a filter paper card to air-dry before testing. This approach is much simpler than the venepuncture procedure and the collection of blood specimens can be self-administrated under clear instructions. Owing to its simplicity and minimal invasiveness, dried blood spot samples have been used for screening some common infectious diseases.