The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions. During screening, invasive tests, such as biopsies , are not done.

Screening is a method of finding out if you have hepatitis before you begin to have any symptoms. Screening involves:

  • Assessing your medical history and lifestyle habits that may increase or decrease your risk of hepatitis
  • Undergoing tests to identify early signs of hepatitis, including blood tests for hepatitis antigens and antibodies

Screening Tests

Blood tests can screen or routinely check for hepatitis in people who are at increased risk for infection. These tests involve checking for the presence or absence of hepatitis antigens and antibodies. Antigens are foreign proteins; antibodies are proteins that your body has made to fight infectious agents.

Screening Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends screening for hepatitis in pregnant women at their first prenatal visit, and in people at high risk for the disease. Common risk factors for hepatitis B and hepatitis C include:

  • IV drugs (or having sex with someone that used IV drugs)
  • Recipients of blood clotting products (especially older types that have not gone through modern purification and production methods).
  • Recipients of blood, especially prior to 1992
  • Recipients of a solid organ transplant, especially prior to 1992 when improved screening tests were developed
  • Persistent elevation of certain liver function tests
  • Chronic hemodialysis
  • People who have ever shared a personal item (toothbrush, razor, or other item that had blood on it, even if not visible) with someone who has hepatitis
  • Sexual partner who has hepatitis
  • Sexual partner who has or had a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Anyone with an STD
  • Undiagnosed liver problems
  • Healthcare workers exposed to blood or bodily fluids
  • Infants of mothers with hepatitis