The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Ask the Experts About

Hepatitis and HIV CoinfectionHepatitis and HIV Coinfection
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

Should I have HvB Vaccine?
Jun 19, 2004

Dear Dr McGovern

I had a Hepatitis B lab this March. here is my result:

HBsAg:Negative anti-HBs : Negative anti-HBc: Positive

I was told by my Doctor that I was previously exposed to Hepatitis B virus, but not a carrier.

But I looked around the web and see four possible interpretations for my case: 1. May be recovering from acute HBV infection. 2. May be distantly immune and test not sensitive enough to to detect very low level of anti-HBs in serum. 3. May be susceptible with a false positive anti-HBc. 4. May be undetectable level of HBsAg present in the serum and the person is actually a carrier.

my question: 1. Is it safe for me to have hepatitis B vaccine? 2. How high is the chance that I am still a carrier? 3. Should I see a liver specialist?

Response from Dr. McGovern

Your laboratory results are consistent with something called "isolated hepatitis B core antibody." The interpretation of which is complicated. About 2-5% of healthy blood donors have isolated anti-HBc.

If you had recent acute hepatitis B, your IgM core would be positive. If you had distant exposure to hepatitis B, your IgG core would be positive. Sometimes hepatitis B surface antibody can wane over time and the individual was distantly infected. False positive anti-HBc antibodies can occur but are very uncommon. Rarely does a person have HBsAg which is undetectable.

This phenomenon also occurs in patients who have underlying hepatitis C.

1. I would recommend that you have testing for hepatitis C and repeat testing for hepatitis B surface antigen. 2. Clarify that the hepatitis B core is IgG fraction. 3. As for hepatitis B vaccine, it is very unclear what to do in this case. Is has been suggested in the literature that it is reasonable to take one dose of vaccine to see if you get a surface antibody response one month later which would suggest that you boosted natural immunity. If there is no respone then receiving all 3 doses is reasonable. However, there is no clear answer unfortunately so I would speak with your physician further about this.

Dr. McGovern

hep c and herpies
HBV carrier and HCC

  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary



This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint