Is Your Family Getting Together for the Holidays? Time to Discover Your Medical History

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of stockimages at

When we have chronic hepatitis B, knowing our family medical history can give us an inside edge to fight this infection.

Hepatitis B is an infection that often runs in families, and knowing how our parents or grandparents handled this liver disease can give us insider information about our own genetic prospects with hepatitis B.

Experts estimate that more than half of us worldwide became infected at birth. Our mothers may have been infected with hepatitis B and immunization, which can prevent infection if administered within 12 hours of birth, was not available to us as newborns, nor to our mothers or grandmothers. Continue reading

New Hepatitis B Treatment Guidelines Revealed at AASLD 2015 Conference


The American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD), the organization that defines how doctors should treat hepatitis B and other liver ailments, unveiled new hepatitis B treatment guidelines this week at its annual conference in San Francisco.

The new guidelines are published here.  Patients should review them and discuss any updates that address their individual conditions with their physicians. Continue reading

The Veterans Administration Ignores an Enemy on the Homefront: Hepatitis B

Courtesy of the U.S. Defense Health Agency.

Courtesy of the U.S. Defense Health Agency.

With Veterans Day comes reports about the lack of adequate mental health care for men and women returning from war. There is another, invisible health issue threatening veterans of all ages–hepatitis B.

Few veterans have ever been screened or treated for hepatitis B though their infection rate is four-times the national average.

The percentage of veterans infected with hepatitis B may actually be higher, but no one knows. Only 15 percent of U.S. veterans have ever been screened for hepatitis B. Among the few screened and diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B, only 25 percent have received antiviral treatment and only 13 percent have been screened for liver cancer. Continue reading

The Annual Hepatitis B Check-up: Facing Mortality and a Missing History

Image by worradmu, courtesy of

Image by worradmu, courtesy of

For more than 20 years, I have accompanied my daughter to her annual hepatitis B check-up with her liver specialist. She is 22 and does not need me to come, but I always go out of habit and love.

After the appointment, we sit eating lunch and I talk about how lucky she is that her liver has been healthy and her viral load undetectable for many years. Recently, she started testing negative for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). However, she has never developed hepatitis B surface antibodies. Her immune system has cleaned house, but has lacked the power to produce enough surface antibodies to show up on lab tests and declare her free of infection.

For the second year in a row, her doctor gave her a hepatitis B vaccine shot, an experiment to see if the injection of HBsAg would spur her immune system to generate enough surface antibodies to register in a lab test. Continue reading

Shop Carefully for the Best Insurance Plan When You Have Hepatitis B

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Image courtesy of digitalart at

With the cost of health care and prescription drugs soaring, it’s important to choose health insurance carefully when you take hepatitis B medications and need frequent check-ups and lab tests.

In the next two months, Medicare recipients, people who get insurance through their jobs and consumers buying coverage through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will be selecting insurance plans during open enrollment.

If you take antivirals or interferon and have frequent lab tests and doctor visits, it’s important that you select the plan that:

  • Has your specialist or primary care doctor and lab in its network,
  • And offers the lowest copay for the drugs you need.

Continue reading