Hepatitis A Antibody
Does this test have other names?
IgM, IgM anti-HAV
What is this test?
This test looks for antibodies in your blood called IgM. The test can find out whether
you are infected with the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
Hepatitis is an inflammation of your liver, often caused by an infection. Most hepatitis
infections are caused by 1 of 5 viruses: hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E. Because the symptoms
of all of these infections are similar, this blood test can tell your healthcare provider
which type of virus you may have.
Your immune system makes IgM antibodies when you are first infected with HAV. It can
take 14 to 50 days to develop symptoms of hepatitis A after you become infected. The
average time to get symptoms after you are infected is 30 days. IgM antibodies usually
begin to appear in your blood 5 to 10 days before you start having symptoms and can
stay in your blood for about 6 months after the infection.
You can get HAV by eating or drinking a food or beverage contaminated with the virus.
The virus is also in the bowel movements of infected people, so you could get infected
by coming in contact with someone who has the infection. In rare cases, you can get
the virus from a contaminated needle.
HAV infection usually clears up on its own within a few weeks or months. Once you
have had HAV, you will probably never have it again. This is called having immunity
to the infection.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test if your healthcare provider suspects you may have a liver infection
caused by HAV. Your provider may order this test if you have symptoms of HAV and you
have a history that puts you at risk for being in contact with the virus. Risk factors
for HAV include:
Traveling to a country with high rates of HAV infection
Having contact with or eating contaminated food
Being in close contact with a person who has HAV
Having sex with someone infected with HAV
Being a man who has sex with men
Working at a healthcare or daycare center
Sharing needles for IV (intravenous) drug use
Symptoms of HAV usually start suddenly and may include:
Some people, especially children, may have HAV without symptoms.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also check for antibodies to other types of hepatitis
viruses. You may need other blood tests to check how your liver is working. Other
tests for HAV are available, but the HAV antibody test is considered to be the most
What do my test results mean?
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used
for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem.
Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
Normal results are negative, meaning that you don't have the hepatitis A IgM in your
If your test is positive or reactive, it may mean:
How is this test done?
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in
your arm or hand.
Does this test pose any risks?
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection,
bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may
feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
What might affect my test results?
No other factors can affect your results.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about
all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines
that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.