Hep B Testing
Hepatitis B, often called simply Hep B, is a serious, (sometimes) sexually transmitted disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Severity of the disease can vary from person to person. In some people, it merely presents as an illness lasting a few weeks. In others, the illness can be lifelong. Since it is difficult to predict how the disease will progress and since progression varies on an individual basis, it is imperative to seek treatment as soon as possible after a diagnosis is obtained. However, a diagnosis can only be obtained by undergoing Hep B testing.
Not Just an STD
Most diseases that are labeled as sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are only transmitted, as the name implies, through sexual contact of some kind. Hepatitis B is different. While it can be and often is transmitted through unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex, it can also be transmitted via exposure to infected blood or other bodily fluids. It is a real risk not just for the sexually active individuals but for anyone who has a person with Hep B in his or her life or who may have possibly come into contact with the disease either sexually or by some other means of transmission. Because there are so many ways that Hepatitis B can be spread, it is imperative that those at risk undergo Hep B testing on a regular basis.
A “Silent” Infection
Throughout the healthcare community, Hepatitis B is commonly known as a “silent” infection. The reason for this nomenclature is that the disease can and often does infect people without any obvious symptoms, at least at first. Those who are unaware that they have the disease are constantly undergoing dangerous attacks on the liver that worsen over time but that can potentially continue for years undetected. The longer the disease can silently attack the body and the liver, the worse its effects, so prompt diagnosis and treatment are of the utmost importance.
The Spread of Hep B
As mentioned, this dangerous disease can be spread through a variety of ways, not just through sexual contact. Some of the more common routes of transmission for Hep B include:
- From mother to child during birth
- Sexual intercourse
- Anal sex
- Oral sex
- Sharing needles during drug use or tattooing
- Sharing razors
- Sharing toothbrushes
- Blood contact
With so many possible means of transmission, virtually every person is at risk of contracting Hepatitis B.
The good news is that Hep B testing is relatively simple and painless. Many general healthcare practitioners even perform Hep B testing during regular visits and checkups. However, it is important for all people especially those at an increased risk for the disease, to make sure that their doctors are checking them for it. Hep B testing can also be done via an STD clinic, Planned Parenthood, or even online testing options. How a person is tested doesn’t matter; what matters is that he or she is tested and, if the disease is present, takes action against it and its further transmission.