Dealing with the diagnosis in a relationship

Hello I came across this community while searching online and was hoping that it could be of some help.

I’m a 25 year old guy from the UK and the last few months my health wasn’t great with lots of non specific symptoms like aches and pains, fatigue and generally feeling very unwell yet I couldn’t figure out what was wrong nor could my doctor after numerous visits. After countless visits to my doctor he eventually said to me that I looked slightly jaundiced! I hadn’t yet noticed this and he took bloods for liver tests and tested for various hepatitis.

To my shock my ALT score came back as 2,500 IU/ml and bilirubin was also high can’t quite remember what it was. I was also positive for hbsag. This was about 6 weeks ago. After this result my finance who I have been with for 2 years had to be tested and also came back as positive although she has no symptoms and did not appear to be unwell. I was at first convinced I had given this to her and was really down about it as our doctor began asking me questions about intravenous drug use and numerous sexual partners both of which I have never participated in.

We’ve since had to visit a specialist and had a further hep b panel test and it appears my infection is acute and my fiancé has chronic hep b and has more than likely infected me as a result. Her liver tests have came back as within normal ranges and her ultrasound didn’t show inflammation of her liver so we’ve been advised for her not to start on antiviral treatment yet and to just monitor her bi annually. Unfortunately I had not never been vaccinated as the vaccine was only introduced in the UK for new borns in 2017.

I am feeling better the last couple of days than I have been the past month but this has came as a huge shock and has put a massive strain on our relationship as my fiancé feels consumed with guilt even though I don’t hold it against her at all as she was unaware of the fact she had hep b. I’ve been told that it’s very likely that as a adult I will clear hep b in the next few months but the wait has me very anxious and my fiancé cannot be convinced that I’ll be ok.

My questions are is there anything that can be done to help with the clearing process of acute hep b? @HealthExperts

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Hi Mark, you sound like a wonderful person! To be reassuring your fiancee while struggling with your own health due to an infectious disease like hep B is the sign of a truly compassionate and good guy, Kudos. Wish there were more people like you! With that said, there’s really little you can do to accelerate clearance of the virus from your body (e.g. recovery) other than to avoid alcohol and smoking. Both of these things can increase significantly the stress on your liver which is already massively stressed by the hep B infection. Other simple things to do is eat healthfully (avoid fatty, fried foods, sugary foods…in other words, all the stuff you know that isn’t really good for you), rest as much as you body needs (don’t be hero and overwork yourself or over exercise as you’re recovering), and avoid stress. Bottom line, keep your liver and your life as stress-free as much as possible so your liver can do its job. In about 6 months, you can have your blood tests rechecked, and if you’re like 90% of other healthy adults, you should be able to get rid of the virus and show protective antibodies against the virus (just as if you’ve been vaccinated). In the meantime, please make sure that your fiancee sees a liver specialist if possible. A GP may not be as up on the current treatment recommendations for hep B, and if she’s thinking of having children in the future, a liver specialist will be able to better guide her. Thanks for joining and we hope you continue to benefit from all of the expertise on this forum. Always, Joan

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Dear Joan, many thanks for the reply. It’s been a difficult time and still is at the moment but hoping for the best outcome. I’ll definitely take on board the advice and try to live a super liver friendly life for the next few months until the infection hopefully clears. We will also definitely request a referral to monitor my fiancé with a specialist at our next visit with our GP.
Thanking you,
Mark.

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Hi Mark,
Yes it does sound like a difficult time and a shock for both of you I’m sure! Hopefully working through this together will help to strengthen your relationship as a couple. I’m an Infectious Diseases specialist and regularly treat people with hepatitis B. I endorse Joan’s comments that there is really nothing you need to do at this stage apart from minimising alcohol and healthy lifestyle choices. Perhaps try to think of it as fortunate “accident” for both of you, as your fiancee was able to find out about her hepatitis B in plenty of time to organise the correct monitoring and treatment to protect both her health and that of any future children you may be planning. Keep strong and keep up the good work!
Best wishes,
Mark

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Hi Mark,

Fellow UKer here!

Great advice from Joan and Mark. Having read your email I can 100% relate except I had Hep B and my gf (now wife) got tested to ensure she hadn’t caught it from me. The good news is, not only did she not get HBV but she also ended up getting her shots and helping me get through my initial (shocker) diagnosis!

Just want to throw my 2 pence in as I know how your fiancee feels - i’ve been there but defo get a re test in the next couple months and judging by your efforts and worries, it’s apparent you and your fiancée will work through and continue building on your relationship.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck and happy to help with some of your questions relating to NHS monitoring and treatment for your fiancee.

All the best,

Pete

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Hi Mark,

The stress you and your fiance are going though is heavy, and I applaud you for taking it on with a positive, productive attitude!

I’m a senior HBV virologist and can confirm everything the others have discussed. It is quite likely that you will clear the infection, and having your fiance find out about her infection while you are still young is a really good thing because it will get her the care an monitoring she needs. The physicians are very good at monitoring and treating chronic HBV infections. There are quite good drugs that can control HBV well if the time comes that you and/or your fiance need to start drug treatment. In addition, there is a HUGE amount of effort going on in academia and the pharmaceutical industry to develop even better treatments that may be able to cure the infection. I’m running one of the drug discovery projects myself (as is Joan’s husband Tim), and the research community is very excited about the prospects for better therapies. Be hopeful, as there is a world-wide army of scientists working to help you and all other HBV patients!

John Tavis, PhD

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Hi all, I just have to say as a “grandma” on this forum (meaning I’m over 60 years and as a nurse have been involved in the hep B world for more than 30 years), I am really learning new things on this forum and am so excited to have scientists like Dr. Tavis and Dr. Douglas weighing in on these conversations. We are so very lucky to have such well known experts in the field sharing their thoughts and expertise. This is not possible in the outside “real world.” Thanks to all of you for enriching our patient experiences and giving us hope!! Joan

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The support you have given your fiancé is like when I knew my boyfriend (now husband) was a keeper. Maybe go to couples counseling to work things through in the meantime?

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Hi everyone just wanted to say I received the fantastic news yesterday that I have cleared my acute hepatitis b with undetectable hbsag and a positive result of hbsag 27.6 IU/L. It’s such a relief as the past 4 going on 5 months have been very stressful waiting for the outcome of my infection.

My fiancée’s chronic infection has also been further investigated with bloods and ultrasounds after we found a gastroenterologist and her liver is currently very healthy and her hbv is at very low levels and in an inactive state which is great.

Finding out about her chronic hbv through me getting sick with acute hbv has been difficult but has really strengthened us in the long run hopefully and we now say it may have been a small blessing in disguise as she may never have found out about her hbv until serious problems occurred for her later down the road.

I didn’t post much here since all this happened but enjoyed reading everyone’s stories and what ye had to share about your own experiences and will definitely stay in touch on the forum in the future.

Mark.

@HealthExperts

Dear Mark, we are all thrilled for your recovery from an acute hep b infection. Wonderful news!!! And your attitude of “making lemonade from lemons” is a beautiful tribute to the love you have for your fiance. Yes, it is so much better that she learned earlier than later that she has a chronic hep b infection. Because now she knows what to do to ensure a long and healthy life! See a knowledgeable doctor, eat and live healthfully, etc., etc.

And you both will be able to protect your future children from a chronic infection when they are born. So many new babies are chronically infected at birth because their mothers didn’t know they carried the virus. You and your fiance have averted that disaster!!

Thanks so much for sharing your good news!! And please feel free to ask any questions that your fiance may have as she continues to live with hep b. Always, Joan

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Dear @Mark,

That is wonderful news and I’m so happy for you. It must be such a relief and I echo Joan in congratulating you for your attitude to this news and the resultant strengthening of your relationship. I really hope you stick around to provide others with your really valuable experience and to support your fiancé through her journey as well.

All the best,
Thomas

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It’s definitely a big of you to move forwards with her to start a family by getting married. I think there is a difference in finding out before and after marriage.

It’s a condition that affects the whole future of things. For you to am infected and then kick it, is a good sign. But if I were you, I would still get the liver checked out

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Congratulations! This is great news.