Hepatitis B Information
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a viral disease that affects the liver and can cause
Hepatitis B can be acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis B means that the
person recently was infected with the hepatitis B virus. The incubation period for hepatitis B is 6
weeks to 6 months. During this time (first 6 months after infection)
most persons have no symptoms or might experience a mild illness. If the hepatitis B test is still positive
after 6 months, the person will have chronic hepatitis B. If a person has chronic hepatitis B, they
will have it for the rest of their lives.
If a person is infected with hepatitis B virus as an adult, 95% of the
people will get better, their hepatitis B will go away on its own. If an infant is infected with hepatitis B
virus, 90% of the infants will have hepatitis B for the rest of their lives. Without appropriate medical
management, 25% of chronically infected people will die from a liver related
disease (Cirrhosis or Liver Cancer).
What are the
symptoms of Hepatitis B?
There may be no symptoms or you may have:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
- Fatigue (feeling tired)
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pain
How could I
get infected with Hepatitis B?
B virus is found in the blood and other body fluids including semen and vaginal
Some ways of getting infected with Hepatitis B
- Having sex with a person
infected with Hepatitis B virus
- From mother to
child at birth
- Sharing needles or
syringes to inject drugs or other drug supplies
- Getting a
non-professional tattoo or body piercing (like at someone’s home or
personal care supplies like razors or toothbrushes that may have a small
amount of blood on them
Who should be
tested for Hepatitis B?
- All pregnant women
- Infants born to HBV positive mothers
- Household contacts and sex partners of
people with HBV
- Persons infected with HIV
- People born in countries with high rates
of Hepatitis B (Asia and Africa)
- People who inject drugs
- Men who have sex with men
Is there a
vaccine for Hepatitis B?
Yes, there is a vaccine available for Hepatitis B. It is a 3 dose series, all must be completed
to be protected from hepatitis B.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants within 24 hours of
birth, 1-2 months and 6 months of age and for adolescents and adults who are at risk for Hepatitis B.
It is recommended that household partners and sexual contacts of people
with Hepatitis B be tested for hepatitis B.
If the test is negative, they should be vaccinated for Hepatitis B. This vaccine can
help protect them from becoming infected with Hepatitis B.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is also highly recommended for anyone who has
been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and has not already been infected with
Is there a
treatment for Hepatitis B?
People with chronic
Hepatitis B should see a specialist at least yearly to monitor the health of
their liver. Some patients may need to be on medications to help reduce the
amount of Hepatitis B virus in the blood but these medications are not
recommended for all patients. Your
doctor will advise you if you need the medication.
A healthy lifestyle
including a low fat diet, getting enough sleep and exercise can help support
the health of the liver. It is also
important that people with Hepatitis B avoid drugs and alcohol and certain
medications including Tylenol and Ibuprofen as these can further damage the