Hepatitis B is a liver disease that’s caused by a virus known as the hepatitis B virus, or HBV. This virus can be transmitted in several different ways, including by sharing drug injection equipment or through unprotected sex.
If you’re sexually active or have other risk factors, then you may want to find out whether or not you’ve been infected with this dangerous virus. How can you test for hepatitis B? Can you do a hepatitis B test at home?
Why might you want hepatitis B testing?
The hepatitis B virus doesn’t always cause any obvious signs of infection. Some people have symptoms in the early stages, but many people have no symptoms at all for many years, and don’t even know that they’re infected until they go into liver failure in the late stages of the infection.
If you engage in activities that might transmit hepatitis B, then it’s a good idea to get screened for the virus from time to time. The riskiest activities are those involving blood-to-blood contact, such as through sharing any equipment for injection drug use. Unprotected sexual contact is also risky. Men who have sex with men are at the highest risk, because anal sex is able to transmit the virus more easily. However, anyone who has multiple sexual partners could potentially be at risk.
There is a vaccine available that can help to protect you against hepatitis B. The CDC recommends that everyone gets this vaccine, although it’s considered to be optional for people over 60 who don’t have any known risk factors. If you haven’t yet gotten this vaccine, talk with your doctor about getting it.
Types of hepatitis B home test kit
To check for hepatitis B, a blood test is needed. It’s certainly possible to order just a hepatitis B test on its own. This may be a good option if you have had a known exposure, and you only want to test for this one virus.
However, many people may want to consider testing for other diseases as well. For example, there are other viruses that can also be transmitted through blood, including HIV and hepatitis C. If you may be exposed to others’ blood, such as while using injection drugs or engaging in blood play, then testing for HIV and hepatitis C along with your hepatitis B test is probably a good idea.
For those who have sex outside of a mutually monogamous relationship (especially while not always using condoms during every sexual encounter), then it’s a good idea to test for other STDs as well. Some common STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and trichomoniasis. You can get a home STD panel that includes testing for many different diseases. You’ll need to check to see whether HBV testing is included.
With any type of home STD testing, instant results are usually not available. You have to wait one to a few days to get your results. Although the wait can be nerve-wracking, it’s important to ensure that the laboratory performs the testing properly, and this does take some time.
Here are the four home testing services that we usually recommend:
This company offers a test for hepatitis B and C for $79. This allows you to check for both diseases at once. However, it’s important to note that testing for hepatitis B is not included in their standard STD panels. This means that if you want to test for other diseases as well, then you’ll need to order additional testing. You can do an STD panel, along with a separate hepatitis B and C test. LetsGetChecked offers home testing kits, so you’ll take your own samples and mail them back to the lab for testing. This company ships to all US states, as well as the UK and Ireland.
This company offers a hepatitis B test for $99. If you want to test for only this virus, you can do so. However, even though hepatitis C is included in some of the STD panels that myLAB Box offers, hepatitis B is not included, so you’ll have to order multiple different test kits if you want to test for hep B along with other diseases. This is a home testing service that ships to all US states.
This company is the most affordable, offering a hepatitis B test alone for $59. You can also choose a panel that includes testing for other diseases along with hepatitis B. Rather than a home test kit, this company offers in-lab testing. You will order the test yourself, but will then need to visit a laboratory to have your blood drawn. This could be considered a disadvantage if you don’t have a lab close to you, but could also be viewed as an advantage by those who prefer not to take their own blood sample. There are labs across the US, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find one that’s convenient.
Health Testing Centers
With this company, you can order a hepatitis B test on its own for $52 if you’re willing to go into a laboratory for your blood draw, or for $79 if you prefer a home hepatitis B testing kit. You can also get hepatitis B as part of a comprehensive STD panel, although it’s important to check carefully to ensure that it’s included, because several of their STD panels include hepatitis C but not hepatitis B. This company is unique in that it allows you to choose between a home test kit and a laboratory blood draw. However, there are certain states (New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) where this testing service is not available.
Comparing at home hepatitis B test options
To summarize the information we’ve provided, here’s a helpful chart comparing the various options for hepatitis B testing at home.
LetsGetChecked. https://www.letsgetchecked.com/. Accessed 13 Sep 2022.
myLAB Box. https://www.mylabbox.com/. Accessed 13 Sep 2022.
PrioritySTD. https://www.prioritystdtesting.com/. Accessed 13 Sep 2022.
Health Testing Centers. https://www.healthtestingcenters.com/. Accessed 13 Sep 2022.
Hepatitis B. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/index.htm. Accessed 13 Sep 2022.
Hepatitis B Questions and Answers for Health Professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/hbvfaq.htm#vaccFAQ. Accessed 13 Sep 2022.