It was just a usual day when I closed from work, tired, worn-out and half awake I walked into my room and hopped right into bed. As I was cooling off to sleep I decided to check my Facebook notifications. I reached out to my phone and logged in. I saw a lot of messages on my messenger but I had no intentions of reading messages so I went straight to my notifications. But something struck me to check my inbox as I was about closing the app. The most recent message was from someone I had never interacted with, curious, I opened it and what I felt after reading the message almost robbed me off my sleep.
Hi doc! I checked my hepatitis B status about 4 months ago and was negative for the infection unfortunately I did not take the vaccination at the time. I reported to school afterwards and I’m home again for a break only to be tested positive for hepatitis B. The lab man said there was no cure for the disease and the management is too expensive which meant I had no options. I went home feeling low, I have since been crying and I don’t know what to do.
After reading this I felt bad for her but to avoid stressing myself out I closed the messenger and slept without replying her. FYI, We had a resolution later.
Well, that was about her but this post is for you not her and I wrote the article for people who are looking for answers after being diagnosed positive for this unfriendly condition. I must state here emphatically that hepatitis B has so many management options and for the lay man I mean there is treatment for hepatitis B.
That brings us to the million dollar question “what do you do when you are tested positive for the infection?”
Testing positive for hepatitis B or receiving news of a loved one’s positive test results can be confusing or overwhelming, and this may validate the above question. You don’t have to worry, I am here to help. Just keep calm
Below is a step-wise approach when you first test positive for hepatitis B
- UNDERSTAND YOUR DIAGNOSES: The hepatitis B strip used for the diagnoses can only prove the presence of the infection but does not inform if it is acute or chronic infection and this information is important in taking the next step. In order to understand your diagnoses further you have to ask for hepatitis B profile test which is a more detailed test and can distinguish between acute and chronic infection. Acute infection simply means the infection is recent but if you continue to test positive six months after the first test it becomes a chronic infection. Most healthy adults who are acutely infected are able to clear the virus on their own.
- Prevent spread to others: Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and other body fluids hence you have to take steps to prevent your loved ones from getting the infection. There is a safe and effective vaccine that can protect your family, friends and your fellow workers from hepatitis B.
- GET A PHYSICIAN: If you are diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B then you have to find a doctor specialised in liver diseases. Your doctor will request for liver function test and possibly viral load test to access the extent of the infection and the damage to the liver and then guide you to select a suitable treatment option.
The Hepatitis B Foundation outlines the current treatments for hepatitis B fall into two general categories:
- Immune modulator Drugs – These are interferon-type drugs that boost the immune system to help get rid of the hepatitis B virus. They are given as a shot (similar to how insulin is given to people with diabetes) over 6 months to 1 year.
- Antiviral Drugs – These are drugs that stop or slow down the hepatitis B virus from reproducing, which reduces the inflammation and damage of your liver. These are taken as a pill once a day for at least 1 year and usually longer.
There are also liver supplements that helps to keep the liver healthy as treatment progresses. It should however be noted that not all people with chronic hepatitis B requires treatment since the current treatment seem to be most effective in those that exhibit active signs of liver disease shown by the liver function test and other clinical investigations.
Also, whether you are taking treatment or not you have to visit your doctor usually once a year to have your liver function and other signs checked as you make your way towards recovery.
check back later for the next health article on this series “children and pregnancy with hepatitis B infection ”