What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes hepatitis B (a liver infection) The way this infection spreads is similar to the spread of HIV. People with hepatitis B have the disease in their blood, semen, and vaginal secretions. People contract hepatitis B more easily than they contract HIV because it can be 100 times more concentrated in an infected individual’s blood.
Can I contract hepatitis B in any other way apart from sex?
Yes. You can get Hepatitis B through sexual intercourse and many other ways, too. It remains a hardy virus that can exist on nearly all surfaces for about one month. You can be infected with it via contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
Ways hepatitis B virus can be spread include:
- unprotected vaginal or anal sex.
- living in one household with a chronically (life-long) HBV infected person.
- sharing the same personal care items with an infected person, for example, toothbrushes, nail clippers and razors.
- sharing needles or paraphernalia (works) for illegal drug use
- mother passing on the infection to her baby during childbirth.
- engaging in tattooing or body piercing using unsterile equipment
- human bites
Note that you cannot contract hepatitis B from coughing, sneezing, holding hands or kissing.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
People who get symptoms of this disease are just about half of the infected number. The symptoms might include:
- dark-colored urine
- loss of appetite or nausea
- yellowing of skin and whites of eyes
- bloated and tender belly
- extreme tiredness
- pain in joints
What is the severity of a hepatitis B infection?
Getting infected with HBV can lead to life-long (chronic) infection that can result in liver scarring (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. In a country like the United States of America, hepatitis B-related liver disease causes many people to lose their lives. Fortunately, this disease can be prevented with a vaccine.
Do treated patients recover fully?
Most infected adults do recover fully. However, up to 5 of 100 people will remain infectious and live with HBV in their bodies permanently. This is referred to as chronic infection and such chronically infected people don’t necessarily look or feel ill. Unfortunately, they have an increased risk of developing liver failure and liver cancer and require ongoing medical care. Such patients spread the virus to others.
What measures should I use to protect myself from infection?
Vaccinating yourself against hepatitis B. You need to take three shots for a six month period. Advise your sex partner to go for vaccination too and keep following “safer sex” practices.
What groups of people should get hepatitis B vaccine?
- All people from 0–18 years of age
- Anybody who values their life and needs to protect it from this infection
- Anyone who is sexually active and is not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship
- Healthcare providers or public safety workers whose work involves being exposed to blood or body fluids
- People looking for evaluation or treatment for an STI
- Staff and residents of facilities for developmentally disabled people
- People infected with HIV
- Dialysis and pre-dialysis patients
- Anyone in close personal contact (household or sexual) with a chronically HBV infected person.
- Current or recent injection-drug users.
- People who travel to regions of the world where hepatitis B is common such as Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Amazon Basin in South America, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East.
- Anyone with chronic liver disease.
Now, you have the basic knowledge of how to avoid the risk of a hepatitis B infection. Keep browsing our site to learn more living healthy.