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Unable to acquire HBIG test
Jun 16, 2011

9 days post unprotected sex, one partner's test results returned "needing confirmation" for Hep B infection, and a new test was ordered which will take another 5 days. The assumption is that this partner tested positive in the preliminary screen for the virus.

The other partner had not been immunized at all. They heard about post-exposure prophylaxis (recommended by the CDC) of (1) The first Hep B vaccine shot and (2) HBIG (immunoglobulin) shot, simultaneously in a different location on the body. The window period for this to "work" in preventing infection is stated as 14 days from exposure. Any longer and it may not work.

The individual in question contacted numerous urgent care's asking if they offer the HBIG shot. Most said no. One said yes for $700. All recommended speaking instead to the County Health Department for a cheaper way of getting it. Speaking with Public Health Dept, the rep refused to issue the HBIG shot because the other partner was not exhibiting jaundice, nor was she currently sick. When the concerned parnter expressed that transmission can occur even in the absence of a current acute episode, he was ignored and told to acquire a positive test result. Only then could they administer the shot.

Test confirmation test results for Hep B take a minimum of 3-5 days. That will bring the indivdual to day 15, and even then, the Public Health Dept needs to order the HBIG which could take more days. The medical system is flawed. A person who is fully educated and knowingly at risk is physically unable to acquire a shot that could save his life. Because nobody will give it to him.

What do you suggest? And do you think just sucking it up and letting Hep B infect his body - banking on the 90% chance it will resolve on its own - is the intelligent route to take? To him it seems reckless and ignorant.

Thank you.

Response from Dr. McGovern

I would suggest calling the laboratory supervisor to explain the reason why the results are needed quickly. I think the test can be done in a day.

I have called lab supervisors in the past regarding other test assays when a rapid turnaround was needed and often get excellent service.



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