Hepatitis B and C are both a viral infection and can be tested by drawing blood. It is not possible, on clinical grounds, to differentiate hepatitis B from hepatitis caused by other viral agents and, hence, laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis is essential. A number of blood tests are available to diagnose and monitor people with hepatitis B. They can be used to distinguish acute and chronic infections. Laboratory diagnosis of hepatitis B infection focuses on the detection of the hepatitis B surface antigen HBsAg. Due to the fact that acute hepatitis C infection is usually asymptomatic, few people are diagnosed during the acute phase. After a person has been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C infection, they should have an assessment of the degree of liver damage (fibrosis and cirrhosis). This can be done by liver biopsy or through a variety of non-invasive tests. In addition, these people should have a laboratory test to identify the genotype of the hepatitis C strain.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria Treponema Pallidum and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. There are four different stages of syphilis with each stage causing more serious medical problems. Tests include reflex to qualitative rapid plasma reagin (RPR) on positives. This is done by a serological test for screening for syphilis infection. This panel includes a Treponemal-specific test which may be positive in all stages of syphilis. It may be positive with treponemal infections other than syphilis (bejel, pinta, yaws). Like FTA-ABS and TP-PA, once positive, it remains so; it cannot be used to judge the effectiveness of treatment.

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defense against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell, and makes copies of itself inside these cells. T-helper cells are also referred to as CD4 cells. The HIV test is designed to detect antibodies to HIV in your blood or saliva. Antibodies are proteins produced by your body when you have an infection and they help fight infection. If you are infected with HIV, your body makes very specific antibodies to fight the infection. The HIV antibodies are different from antibodies for the flu, hepatitis, or other infections. If you have HIV antibodies, then you have been infected with HIV.

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