Test & Collection Guide

Pathology staff view

 New search...

Keyword Search:

Test name:


Manual search:

Hepatitis Serology

Ordering information:

Please note that 'Hepatitis Serology' can cover a wide range of tests, each of which has different clinical applications.  If possible, please specify the tests required, or contact the laboratory if you need clarification regarding the types of tests available.

Alternate names:
Hep A serology, Hep B serology, Hep C serology, Hepatitis A serology, Hepatitis B serology, Hepatitis C serology
Test Code:
Specimen types:
Container types:
Serum tube with gelSerum tube with gel
Collection Instructions:

All PCR tests require a tube of their own.

Please request each specific antigen and/or antibody required. Please supply history of illness and history of contacts/vaccinations.


Hepatitis testing – Which test to order?

1. Principles of hepatitis testing

  Consider the incubation periods:

Hepatitis A: 2 - 6 weeks

Hepatitis B: 1 - 6 months

Hepatitis C: 15 days - 5 months

  Types of antibodies:

IgM is detected in recent infection and lasts for about 3 months

IgG alone occurs with past infection, carrier states and vaccination

IgM & IgG occur together in recent infection

2. The jaundiced patient - ?Acute (infectious) hepatitis

  Is this Hepatitis A, B or C?

  Also consider:


Non-infectious causes of jaundice (biliary obstruction, medications, alcohol)

3. Testing for acute hepatitis

  HBsAg (hepatitis B surface antigen)

Occurs 2-6 weeks before onset of symptoms

If HBsAg detected, request HBcIgM (hepatitis B core IgM antibody - usually present at onset of symptoms).


Occurs with onset of abnormal LFTs

  HCV Ab / Anti-HCV

Present at onset of symptoms in 50 -70% patients

Occurs by 20 weeks in 95% patients

If negative early, repeat if no other cause found

4. Antenatal hepatitis screen

  HBsAg - To detect maternal chronic hepatitis B infection (‘carrier’)

  (HCV antibody only if requested)

5. Post Vaccination Check

Hepatitis B vaccination

Check HBsAb (Anti-HBs, hepatitis B surface antibody)

Timing: 4 weeks after 3rd vaccination

If negative, consider checking for HBsAg (hepatitis B surface antigen) carriage

Hepatitis A vaccination

Anti-HAV Total antibody

  Note - There is no hepatitis C vaccination available currently

6. Blood or body fluid exposure (eg. needlestick injury / mucosal splash)

  Source (eg. patient):

HBsAg, HCV Ab (Anti-HCV), HIV Ab (Anti-HIV)

  Recipient (eg. healthcare worker):

HBsAb (Anti-HBs) + baseline LFTs if ‘Source’ hepatitis serology positive

Store serum for 2 years

7. Possible hepatitis B ‘carrier’ (chronic hepatitis B infection)

Check HBsAg

If HBsAg detected then check

- HBeAg and HBeAb (Anti-HBe)

8. Possible chronic hepatitis C infection

Check HCV Ab (Anti-HCV)

If detected, then check Hep C PCR

9. Tests for patients at risk of blood borne viruses


If negative check HBcAb (Anti-HBc, hepatitis B core antibody) for previous infection

If detected check HBeAg, HBeAb (Anti-HBe) & HBV DNA to assess infectivity

HCV Ab (Anti-HCV): If detected, check Hep C PCR

Anti-HAV Total antibody: If at risk of hepatitis A prior to immunisation (eg injecting drug users, men who have sex with men).


10.1 Hepatitis A
HAV Hepatitis A virus
HAV IgM Hepatitis A IgM antibody; Recent infection with Hepatitis A
HAV Total Ab Hepatitis A total antibody; Detects both IgG and IgM antibody
  - Immunity to hepatitis A: post-infection or vaccination (IgG component positive)
  - Will be positive in acute hepatitis A infection (IgM +/- IgG components positive – check HAV IgM if recent infection is suspected)


10.2 Hepatitis B
HBV Hepatitis B virus
HBsAg Hepatitis B surface antigen; Indicates virus present (acute infection or chronic ‘carrier’ state
HBsAb/Anti-HBs Hepatitis B surface antibody; Immune to Hepatitis B, post-vaccination or post-infection
HBcIgM/Anti-HBcIgM Hepatitis B core IgM; Recent hepatitis B infection
HBcAb/Anti-HBc Hepatitis B core antibody; Past hepatitis B infection or chronic infection/’carrier’ if HBsAg + . (If recent infection suspected, request HBcIgM).
HBeAg Hepatitis B e antigen; Relatively more infectious
HBeAb/Anti-HBe Hepatitis B e antibody; Less infectious
HBV DNA Hepatitis B viral DNA; Marker of infectivity, used for planning and monitoring treatment
10.3 Hepatitis C
HCV Hepatitis C virus
HCV Ab/Anti-HCV Hepatitis C antibody; Current or past infection with hepatitis C
Hep C PCR Hepatitis C polymerase chain reaction; Evidence of hepatitis C RNA - current infection with hepatitis C
  There is no HCV IgM test available. Hepatitis C genotyping is only available for hepatologists planning treatment



   11. Any Questions?

Call the Core Laboratory 9895 3471 and speak to the Senior Scientist.

Compiled by Dr Mary O'Reilly, Head of Eastern Health Infectious Diseases & Infection Control.


Result Turnaround Time:
5 hours



If EMR is not available, Pathology results are available from Auscare.  If you do not have an Auscare login,please complete attached form.

Instruction on how to use Auscare -


CLICK HERE for a consent form to perform tests not covered by Medicare

TURN AROUND TIMES - When will my result be available?

CLICK HERE for Minimum Labelling Requirements

CLICK HERE for a printable Pathology request form

CLICK HERE for a Log sheet for recording Pathology results