Who Are Hepatitis B Carriers
Hepatitis B carriers are people who have the hepatitis B virus in their blood, even though they dont feel sick. Between 6% and 10% of those people whove been infected with the virus will become carriers and can infect others without knowing it. There are over 250 million people in the world who are carriers of HBV, with about 10% to 15% of the total located in India. Children are at the highest risk of becoming carriers. About 9 in 10 babies infected at birth become HBV carriers, and about half of children who are infected between birth and age 5 carry the virus. A blood test can tell you if you are a hepatitis B carrier.
Unlocking The Immune System To Control Hepatitis B
One sequence of the viral RNA code can contribute to several different hepatitis B virus proteins and also to viral replication. By targeting that sequence for clean out there is a potential broad impact on viral protein production, with the goal of eliminating the proteins effects on the immune system. This could set the stage for the immune system to take over and keep the virus suppressed for the long term without the need for ongoing medication.
Whilst the ultimate aspiration is to find a cure for hepatitis B, this approach could lead to what is called a functional cure, where the virus is undetectable in blood and at a low enough level in the liver that it can be controlled by the immune system without medication, meaning liver damage is less likely to progress and the burden of the disease on people will be reduced. Scientists hope this new approach will control the hepatitis B virus and lead to longer-lasting solutions for the 296 million people currently living with this disease.
Hepatitis B has been causing death and disability on a global scale for many years. We are committed to following the science to explore new approaches to address unmet needs and provide longer-lasting solutions for patients with this potentially life-threatening liver infection.
How Is Hepatitis B Treated
Your healthcare provider will treat you based on what type of hepatitis B you have, acute or chronic.
Acute hepatitis B infections
If you develop an acute form of the condition, you probably wont need medical treatment. Instead, your doctor will likely suggest that you get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and maintain a healthy diet to support your body as it fights off the infection.
Chronic hepatitis B infections
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you might be a candidate for drug therapy. Usually, drug therapy is used only if you have active liver disease. There are seven drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat hepatitis B. Two are injectable forms of interferon, while the five other antivirals are tablets.
You will need to take these medications every day. They help by slowing the viruss ability to multiply in your system. This helps reduce swelling and liver damage. Youll need to be regularly monitored for early signs of liver damage and liver cancer. Your healthcare provider will want to see you once or twice a year.
Recommended Reading: What Organ Does Hepatitis B Affect
What Do I Need To Know About Having Hepatitis B
If you have chronic hepatitis B, getting the right medical care can help you stay healthy. Taking good care of your liver is important. Talk with your doctor before you take any prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements to make sure they wont hurt your liver. You should also stay away from alcohol, because drinking can damage your liver.
Is There A Cure
Though there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, treatments can reduce the viral load to undetectable levels which is considered cured or in remission.
The virus is considered cured when it is not detected in your blood 12 weeks after treatment is completed. This is otherwise known as a sustained virologic response .
Hepatitis C is one of the most serious hepatitis viruses. However, with newer treatments developed over the past few years, the virus is much more manageable than it was in the past.
Current antiviral drugs that help cure hepatitis C may also help prevent the health complications of chronic liver disease.
The reports less than half of people who contract the hepatitis C virus may clear it from their bodies without treatment. For this group of people, the virus will be a short-term acute condition that goes away without treatment.
But for most people, acute hepatitis C will likely develop into a chronic condition that requires treatment.
Since the virus often doesnt produce symptoms until after more significant liver damage occurs, its important to get tested for hepatitis C if you think you might have been exposed.
approved the antiviral drug Mavyret for an 8-week treatment period for people with all genotypes of hepatitis C.
This treatment is now being used for many people instead of the 12-week treatment that was previously required.
Noninvasive ways to test for liver damage caused by hepatitis C are also now available to aid in diagnosis.
Don’t Miss: Can Your Body Cure Hepatitis C
The Best Way To Cure Any Disease Is The One
Instead of the cure being a singular treatment or a singular element, like the kryptonite that threatens to destroy Superman, Dr Tavis says the cure to HBV will likely be a collection of powerful tools that together will have the strength to take on the virus.
Scientists all over the world are making huge advancements in new treatments that can attack the virus from every angle, he explains.
Like a squadron of disease-demolishing superheroes, some of the therapies in development focus on blocking the virus entering the cell in the first place, whilst others deactivate the DNA. There is one therapy that will distort the shell of the virus so HBV becomes inactive and unable to survive. Another will lock itself to the genetic material of the virus and either cause it to fall apart or stop it from working.
Clinical trials are underway to investigate how these various treatments can be combined to work safely and effectively with one another, so healthcare professionals will be able to pick from a toolbox of therapies to deliver patient-specific treatment. One pharmaceutical company, Replicor, is already doing it. Using a three-part combination of drugs, Replicor is achieving a functional cure rate of 35% in early clinical trials.
Transmission Symptoms And Treatment
How is HBV transmitted?
HBV is transmitted through activities that involve percutaneous or mucosal contact with infectious blood or body fluids , including
- sex with a partner who has HBV infection
- injection drug use that involves sharing needles, syringes, or drug-preparation equipment
- birth to a person who has HBV infection
- contact with blood from or open sores on a person who has HBV infection
- exposures to needle sticks or sharp instruments and
- sharing certain items with a person who has HBV infection that can break the skin or mucous membranes , potentially resulting in exposure to blood.
How long does HBV survive outside the body?
HBV can survive outside the body and remains infectious for at least 7 days .
What should be used to clean environmental surfaces potentially contaminated with HBV?
Any blood spills should be disinfected using a 1:10 dilution of one part household bleach to 9 parts water. Gloves should be worn when cleaning up any blood spills.
Who is at risk for HBV infection?
The following populations are at increased risk for becoming infected with HBV:
- Infants born to people with HBV infection
- Sex partners of people with HBV infection
- Men who have sex with men
- People who inject drugs
- Household contacts or sexual partners of known people with chronic HBV infection
- Health care and public safety workers at risk for occupational exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- Patients on hemodialysis
Who should be screened for HBV?
Don’t Miss: Hepatitis B And C Can Be Spread By
Are Alternative Medicines Available
Some people believe certain forms of alternative medicine help cure hepatitis C.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that there are no effective, research-proven forms of alternative treatment or complementary medicine for hepatitis C.
Silymarin, also known as milk thistle, is an herb commonly suggested to help cure hepatitis C liver disease. But a rigorous did not find any beneficial effects from this supplement.
What Is The Difference Between Acute And Chronic Hbv
Acute HBV lasts for a short time. A person has chronic HBV when they have had the infection for 6 months or more. A person with chronic HBV might carry the infection indefinitely.
Acute HBV can develop into chronic HBV. A persons risk of developing chronic HBV is relative to the age at which they first developed the infection.
Newborns and young children with HBV have a higher risk of developing a chronic infection. According to the :
- around 9 in 10 infants with acute HBV will develop chronic HBV
- roughly 1 in 3 children who contract the infection before the age of 6 will develop chronic HBV
- almost all adults and children older than 6 with HBV will recover completely
- eating a nutritious diet
People with more severe symptoms may need to go to the hospital.
Doctors recommend having regular blood tests to check whether the infection has resolved or developed into chronic HBV.
Also Check: What Is The Treatment For Chronic Hepatitis B
The Hepatitis B Vaccine
Getting the hepatitis B vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent hepatitis B. Its usually administered in two, three, or four doses. In many countries, infants receive their first dose of the vaccine at birth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that infants receive their first dose of the vaccine at birth and finish all doses at 6 to 18 months old.
The CDC also recommends all children under the age of 19 years old be vaccinated if they havent already received the vaccination.
Adults can also get the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine is generally recommended if you have an increased risk of contracting the virus. Some of these risk factors include:
- traveling to or living in a region where hepatitis B is common
- being sexually active with more than one partner or with a partner who has hepatitis B
- working in a medical setting or other workplaces where youre exposed to bodily fluids
- using intravenous drugs and sharing drug equipment
- having chronic liver disease, a human immunodeficiency virus infection, a hepatitis C infection, diabetes, or kidney disease on dialysis
If youve been exposed to the hepatitis B virus and havent been vaccinated, try to see a doctor right away. They can administer the first dose of the vaccine, though youll need to follow up to receive the remaining doses over the next few months.
They may also prescribe a medication called
Treatment For Suspected Exposure
Anyone who has had potential exposure to HBV can undergo a postexposure prophylaxis protocol.
This consists of HBV vaccination and hepatitis B immunoglobin . Healthcare workers give the prophylaxis after the exposure and before an acute infection develops.
This protocol will not cure an infection that has already developed. However, it decreases the rate of acute infection.
You May Like: Is Hepatitis The Same As Hiv
Closing In On A Cure For Hepatitis B
For Thomas Tu, eliminating hepatitis B is a deeply personal goal.
Tu, a molecular virologist at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, learnt he had chronic hepatitis B as a teenager. A blood test revealed telltale signs of the infectious liver disease, which Tu had probably acquired at birth.
In his late 20s, Tu started taking a medication to limit the viruss replication and prevent collateral damage to his liver cells. Now 36, he has been on that daily treatment a pill known as a nucleoside analogue ever since.
Yet, even with a therapy that keeps his infection well under control, Tu remains at heightened risk for liver disease. He must juggle visits to specialist doctors and bear prescription-drug costs. And he knows that many others racked by the financial instability, emotional toil and stigma that the lifelong infection can bring have it much worse.
Im in this quite privileged space to be able to be on therapy and not have any side effects or feel any burden from taking daily medicines, Tu says. Thats not the same for the majority of people living with hepatitis B.
We are using all our weapons to tackle every single step of the virus, says Man Fung Yuen, a hepatologist at the University of Hong Kong.
Hepatitis B Vs Hepatitis C
Hepatitis has many different types. HBV and the hepatitis C virus have both acute and chronic forms.
The main difference between HBV and HCV is how they spread from person to person. Although HCV is transmissible via sexual activity, this is rare. HCV usually spreads when blood that carries the virus comes into contact with blood that does not.
You May Like: How Hepatitis B Is Contracted
Chronic Hepatitis B And Resolution Of Infection
In the absence of vaccination, over 90% of individuals infected in infancy will progress from acute hepatitis to lifelong chronic infection. By contrast, over 90% of people infected in adulthood will resolve the infection, due to robust immune responses that eliminate infected cells and produce neutralising antibodies that provide lifelong protection. Once chronic infection is established, patients are exposed to significant risk of liver disease including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The natural history of chronic HBV infection usually consists of up to five stages,13 which differ in the level of viral replication, viral antigen expression, and inflammatory activity in the liver.
Hepatitis B Treatment: Medication
There are five FDA-approved oral medications and one injection available to treat hepatitis B. The newer oral medications are stronger and less likely to develop viral resistance and have very few side effects.
The medication cannot cure the disease, but can help reduce the number of viruses in the body and the risk of complications. You may undergo periodic blood tests to monitor drug resistance and determine whether the medication is having an effect.
Read Also: How Do You Catch Hepatitis B And C
Its Great Weve Got But Its Not Where We Need To Be He Says One Class Is Hard To Take The Other You Need To Take Forever
HBVs assault on the liver causes a disease called Hepatitis B . Most adults with hepB recover within one to three months after symptoms start, but when the infection persists longer than six months its considered chronic. As the virus attacks the liver cells, it leaves behind nasty scars called fibrosis. In up to one-third of the patients the scars become severe , eventually resulting in liver failure or liver cancer. While hepB can be fatal, it is treatable, but it is also easily prevented to a degree of 95% through routine, safe, immunisation.
Upscaling vaccination, screening and treatment is the best way to keep this viral criminal at bay. New developments or scientific breakthroughs in any of these three areas is bad news for HBV, but good news for us. So, when scientists on the frontline say this deadly disease is about to meet its match, its great news.
Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented
The hepatitis B vaccine is one of the best ways to control the disease. It is safe, effective and widely available. More than one billion doses of the vaccine have been administered globally since 1982. The World Health Organization says the vaccine is 98-100% effective in guarding against the virus. Newborns should be vaccinated.
The disease has also been more widely prevented thanks to:
- Widespread global adoption of safe blood-handling practices. WHO says 97% of the blood donated around the world is now screened for HBV and other diseases.
- Safer blood injection practices, using clean needles.
- Safe-sex practices.
You can help prevent hepatitis B infections by:
- Practicing safe sex .
- Never sharing personal care items like toothbrushes or razors.
- Getting tattoos or piercings only at shops that employ safe hygiene practices.
- Not sharing needles to use drugs.
- Asking your healthcare provider for blood tests to determine if you have HBV or if you are immune.
You May Like: What Medication Treats Hepatitis C
Treatment Options For Hepatitis B
People living with chronic hepatitis B infection should expect to live a long and healthy life. There are decisions people can make to protect their livers such as seeing a liver specialist or health care provider regularly, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and eating healthy foods. There are also approved drugs for both adults and children that control the hepatitis B virus, which helps reduce the risk of developing more serious liver disease, but there is still no complete cure.
Current treatments for hepatitis B fall into two general categories:
- Immune modulator Drugs These are interferon-type drugs that boost the immune system to help get rid of the hepatitis B virus. They are given as a shot over 6 months to 1 year.
- Antiviral Drugs These are drugs that stop or slow down the hepatitis B virus from reproducing, which reduces the inflammation and damage of your liver. These are taken as a pill once a day for at least 1 year and usually longer.
It is important to know that not everyone with chronic hepatitis B infection needs to be treated. This can be difficult to accept when first diagnosed because taking a drug to get rid of the virus seems like the first step to getting better. Current treatments, however, are generally found to be most effective in those who show signs of active liver disease .
Hepatitis B Drug Watch
Visit the HBF Drug Watch for a complete list of the approved treatments for hepatitis B and promising new drugs in development.