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I’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis B. What happens now? 

Hepatitis B can lead to serious conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. You’ll need regular monitoring so any liver damage can be picked up early, before it becomes permanent. That’s why we encourage you to register with us for support and monitoring if you have the virus. We can answer your questions and complete an assessment so we can give you the best possible care. We’ll send you blood test forms every six months so you can have your liver condition checked. We’ll also remind you when these tests are due and you can contact us free anytime if you need further support. 

Am I at risk? 

You’re at risk of contracting hepatitis B if you: 

  • Are a New Zealander of Maori, Pacific or Asian ethnicity, unless you were fully vaccinated as an infant. 
    Were born in an area with high rates of hepatitis B, including Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, the Middle East, southern Europe or the northern or eastern parts of New Zealand’s North Island. 

  • Live with someone who has hepatitis B 

  • Have a mother or close family member with hepatitis B  

  • Have had unprotected sexual contact with someone with the virus 

  • Have received a tattoo or had a medical procedure (i.e dental, injection, body piercing etc) with unsterile equipment. 

How can I protect myself? 

You should get tested if you fit into one or more of the above groups. It’s important to do a blood test to see if you have immunity, especially if you’re unsure of your status and have a spouse or partner with hepatitis B. Effective hepatitis B vaccines are available free to everyone under 18 and for some contacts of a person with the virus. 

Is there a cost for this? 

All our services are free for New Zealand residents. This includes blood tests, fibroscans, consultations and support. We are contracted by NZ’s Ministry of Health to provide the long-term monitoring programme. That’s where our funding comes from. 

Do I need to take medication?

There is no cure for hepatitis B, but the virus can be managed with medication. Not everyone with hepatitis B needs medication and the decision to start treatment depends on age, your test results and other factors. Our team will analyse your blood test results and refer you for further testing or to start treatment if needed.  

What medication could I be given? 

Entecavir and Tenofovir are the first-line treatment medications for chronic hepatitis B. They reduce the amount of virus in the body. Both medications are successful in most patients who take them as prescribed. Tablets are taken once a day. These medications are fully subsidised for NZ residents, so the cost is $5 for a three-month supply. Both medications have been used around the world for more than 10 years and have a high safety rating. 

I’ve given consent for you to keep my contact details on file. Does this mean I’ll get spam mail? 

No. We only hold your contact details for healthcare purposes and won’t contact you for any other reason. Your information is secure and won’t be shared with anyone without your permission. 

If my blood test shows there’s a problem what can I do? 

Blood tests can save your life by picking up possible liver health problems early. Our clinical team will assess your test results and refer you to further testing or to a secondary care specialist if required. Our nurses will keep in touch with you and your GP to help manage your treatment. Please call our free helpline anytime if you’re concerned about test results or would like them explained to you. 

Can I have a child if I have hepatitis B? 

Yes. However it’s important to keep having your regular hepatitis B blood tests during pregnancy. We recommend telling your doctor or midwife about your hepatitis B status, so your baby can be protected from the virus as soon as it's born. Please contact us for further information or to talk to a community nurse. Find out more about hepatitis B in pregnancy.


We have resources for patients that can be found here. 


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