COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — There are new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for hepatitis B testing. It is now recommended for every adult to get tested at least once in their lifetime.

The CDC estimates that more than 50 percent of people who have hepatitis B don’t know they are infected. “Hepatitis B can lead to permanent liver damage,” says Dr. Joe Gastaldo, an infectious diseases specialist with OhioHealth. “It can lead to liver cancer, and it’s really something that we have to be able to have a low threshold to test people for.”

Hepatitis B is spread through body fluids. Dr. Gastaldo says this can mean intercourse, needle sharing, from mother to baby while pregnant, and even living with an infected person.

Some people with hep B will get sick and look jaundiced, but others may have no symptoms at all. Dr. Gastaldo says that is part of the reason for the new CDC guidelines.

“There are many people out there who should be tested for hepatitis B, specifically those who have higher risk behavior, those who have a history of sexually transmitted infections, those who have substance abuse disorder, those who have a history of being incarcerated or homeless, and dialysis patients,” says Dr. Gastaldo.

The infection is preventable with a vaccine, which has been given to babies born in 1991 and later. If you don’t know if you’ve been vaccinated or not, ask your healthcare provider or just get tested.

“Regardless of somebody’s vaccination status, they should still get tested. However, your best form of protection if you don’t have hepatitis B is to get a vaccine,” says Dr. Gastaldo.

Testing for the infection is easy; all it takes is a blood test. Dr. Gastaldo says healthcare providers will be implementing the new guidelines soon.

“I know at OhioHealth we’re going to be talking about that and making it part of our routine operations to make sure people are tested at least once above the age of 18,” says Dr. Gastaldo.

If you have any questions or concerns about hepatitis B, it’s recommended that you reach out to your primary care doctor.