Learn what you need to know about treating these common infections.
  • Vaginal infection
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infection
  • Viral infections
  • Staph infections
 

 
 

 

Hepatitis B Overview

Hepatitis B is a liver inflammation caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is transmitted through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of someone else who is infected, most often through unprotected sex. Hepatitis B is one of six hepatitis viruses. The other types are A, C, D, E, and G. All cause the liver to become inflamed, but each virus causes a distinct syndrome, though they do share some common symptoms and consequences. Most people who become infected with hepatitis B have a short-term infection, known as an acute infection, and can become virus-free within 6 months, but about 10% of people infected with hepatitis B develop a chronic, life-long infection which can lead to liver cancer, permanent liver damage, or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). People with chronic infection may have symptoms, but many never develop symptoms and don t know they have the virus and can spread the virus to others.

Contact your health care provider if you have one or more risk factors or symptoms of hepatitis B, have not yet been vaccinated against the virus, or are not sure if you have been vaccinated.

Hepatitis B is nearly 100 times as infectious as HIV.

People may become infected with hepatitis B even if they have no known risk factors for the virus. The highest rates of the disease occur in 20-49 year olds.

The known risks of acquiring hepatitis B are greatest for those who:

  • Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or a person who has hepatitis B.
  • Have been diagnosed with sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Use injection drugs.
  • Share a household with someone who has chronic hepatitis B infection.
  • Are born to a hepatitis B infected mother.
  • Are children of immigrants from areas with high rates of hepatitis B infection.
  • Travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, the Amazon Basin, the Pacific Islands and the Middle East.
  • Reside in a U.S. correctional facility.
  • Have frequent workplace contact with blood.
  • Receive hemodialysis.
  • Received a blood transfusion or blood products before 1970.

Persons at risk for hepatitis B infection might also be at risk for infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) or HIV. You can ask your health care provider to be tested at any time.

To prevent yourself from acquiring hepatitis B infection:

  • Get vaccinated. Hepatitis B vaccine is the best protection.
  • If you are having sex with more than one steady sex partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time.
  • Do not shoot drugs. If you shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program. If you can't stop, never use someone else s needles.
  • Do not use someone else s personal care items like razors and toothbrushes.
  • If you are a health care worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles.
  • If getting a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the artist follows proper health guidelines. You could get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them.