Hepatitis B, Chronic | CDC

NOTE: A surveillance case definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define a disease for public health surveillance. Surveillance case definitions enable public health officials to classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions. Surveillance case definitions are not intended to be used by healthcare providers for making a clinical diagnosis or determining how to meet an individual patient’s health needs.

CSTE Position Statement(s)

  • 10-ID-10

Clinical Description

No symptoms are required. Persons with chronic HBV infection may have no evidence of liver disease or may have a spectrum of disease ranging from chronic hepatitis to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Laboratory Criteria For Diagnosis

  • Immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen (IgM anti-HBc) negative AND a positive result on one of the following tests: hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg), or hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA, OR
  • HBsAg positive or HBV DNA positive or HBeAg positive two times at least 6 months apart (Any combination of these tests performed 6 months apart is acceptable)

Case Classification


A person with a single HBsAg positive or HBV DNA positive or HBeAg positive lab result and does not meet the case definition for acute hepatitis B.


A case that meets either of the above laboratory criteria for diagnosis


Multiple laboratory tests indicative of chronic HBV infection may be performed simultaneously on the same patient specimen as part of a "hepatitis panel." Testing performed in this manner may lead to seemingly discordant results, e.g., HBsAg-negative AND HBV DNA-positive. For the purposes of this case definition, any positive result among the three laboratory tests mentioned above is acceptable, regardless of other testing results. Negative HBeAg results and HBV DNA levels below positive cutoff level do not confirm the absence of HBV infection.


1. Division of Viral Hepatitis. Guidelines for Viral Hepatitis Surveillance and Case Management. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 2005.

Related Case Definition(s)

Page last reviewed: April 16, 2021