When an autopsy was carried out after Ludwig van Beethoven’s death in 1827, his liver was found to be “beset with nodules the size of a bean”. Now researchers say the cause may not have been alcohol consumption alone, with a genetic analysis revealing the composer had hepatitis B and was at high risk for liver disease – the condition that is generally thought to have killed him.
Luckily there is a vaccine available to prevent hepatitis B. But, much like Beethoven, it is important we get tested for hepatitis B to avoid further liver damage and cirrhosis, especially if you are at a higher risk.
Many people with hepatitis B have no signs of illness and do not realise they have the virus in their body. You should get a test if you think you have been in a situation where you could have been exposed, or if you:
You can ask your doctor about having a blood test for hepatitis B. You can also visit a community health centre or a sexual health clinic for further information.