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Common Ways To Get Hepatitis B

Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented

What is Hepatitis B? Signs, Symptoms, #Hepatitis Transmission and How to get #Tested

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.

Who Is Most Affected

In the United States, rates of new HBV infections are highest among adults aged 30-59 years, reflecting low hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults at risk. The most common risk factor among people with new HBV infections is injecting drugs, related to the opioid crisis.

The highest rates of chronic hepatitis B infection in the United States occur among foreign-born individuals, especially people born in Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. Approximately 70% of cases in the United States are among people who were born outside of the United States. CDC developed this map of the geographic distribution of hepatitis B around the world – PDF. Other groups who have higher rates of chronic HBV infection include people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men.

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.

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What Happens After A Hepatitis B Infection

Some people carry the virus in their bodies and are contagious for the rest of their lives. They should not drink alcohol, and should check with their doctor before taking any medicines to make sure these won’t cause more liver damage.

Anyone who has ever tested positive for hepatitis B cannot be a blood donor.

What To Expect From Your Doctor

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Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Have you ever had a blood transfusion?
  • Do you inject drugs?

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Other Body Fluids And Tissues

Synovial fluid , amniotic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, and peritoneal fluid can contain the hepatitis B virus, but the risk of transmission to workers is not known.

Feces, nasal secretions, sputum, sweat, tears, urine, and vomit have not been implicated in the spread of hepatitis B. Unless they are visibly contaminated with blood, the risk of contracting hepatitis B from these fluids in the workplace is very low.

Hepatitis B is not transmitted by casual contact. For example, hospital employees who have no contact with blood, blood products, or blood-contaminated fluids are at no greater risk than the general public. However, the virus can spread through intimate contact with carriers in a household setting, possibly because of frequent physical contact with small cuts or skin rashes. The virus can also spread through biting and possibly by the sharing of toothbrushes or razors. It is not spread through sneezing, coughing, hand holding, hugging, kissing, breastfeeding, sharing eating utensils, water or food.

Take Precautions To Avoid Hbv

Other ways to reduce your risk of HBV include:

  • Know the HBV status of any sexual partner. Don’t engage in unprotected sex unless you’re absolutely certain your partner isn’t infected with HBV or any other sexually transmitted infection.
  • Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex if you don’t know the health status of your partner. Remember that although condoms can reduce your risk of contracting HBV, they don’t eliminate the risk.
  • Don’t use illegal drugs. If you use illicit drugs, get help to stop. If you can’t stop, use a sterile needle each time you inject illicit drugs. Never share needles.
  • Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. If you get a piercing or tattoo, look for a reputable shop. Ask about how the equipment is cleaned. Make sure the employees use sterile needles. If you can’t get answers, look for another shop.
  • Ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel. If you’re traveling to a region where hepatitis B is common, ask your doctor about the hepatitis B vaccine in advance. It’s usually given in a series of three injections over a six-month period.

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Prevent Infection After Contact With The Virus

If you think you have been in contact with the hepatitis B virus, see your doctor right away. Doctors typically recommend a dose of the hepatitis B vaccine to prevent infection. In some cases, doctors may also recommend a medicine called hepatitis B immune globulin to help prevent infection. You must get the vaccine dose and, if needed, HBIG shortly after coming into contact with the virus, preferably within 24 hours.

Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor

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People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.

People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.

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What Is The Treatment For Hepatitis B

Prevention is recommended by receiving a vaccine for HBV.

Receiving an injection of the hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of coming in contact with the virus may help prevent the development of the disease.

At present, there is no specific treatment for patients with acute hepatitis B. Acute infection is usually short and will often resolve on its own. Your health care provider may recommend rest, and adequate nutrition and fluids to help your body fight the infection. Hospitalization may be required for patients who suffer from severe vomiting and who are unable to maintain adequate nutritional levels. It may also be required to prevent the development of complications.

While chronic infection cannot be cured, there are two standard treatments in Canada that may control the virus and prevent further damage to the liver.

  • Antiviral medications can fight the virus and slow damage to the liver.
  • Interferon which may be given for short periods and if effective, results in suppression of the virus.

What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis B

If you think you may have been exposed to hepatitis B, its important to talk with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

A doctor or other healthcare professional may administer the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine and a shot of hepatitis B immunoglobulin. This is a combination of antibodies that provide short-term protection against the virus.

Though both can be given up to a week after exposure, theyre most effective at preventing infection if administered within 48 hours.

If you receive a diagnosis of acute hepatitis B, a doctor may refer you to a specialist. They may advise you to get regular blood tests to ensure you dont develop chronic hepatitis.

Many people with acute hepatitis B dont experience serious symptoms. But if you do, it can help to:

  • get plenty of rest
  • take over-the-counter pain mediation, like naproxen, when needed

Other lifestyle changes may also be needed to manage your infection, such as:

  • eating a nutritious, balanced diet
  • avoiding substances that can harm your liver, such as:
  • certain herbal supplements or medications, including acetaminophen

If blood tests show you still have an active infection after 6 months, your doctor may recommend further treatment, including medications to help control the virus and prevent liver damage.

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How To Reduce Your Risk

Dont share needles or other drug-use equipment. If you use intravenous drugs, take part in a needle exchange program.

Dont share personal care articles, such as razors, scissors, nail clippers or toothbrushes, with an infected person.

If you get a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture, make sure all equipment is clean and sterile. Needles should always be new, not used, and never homemade.

Wear latex gloves whenever you might come into contact with someone elses blood or body fluids.

What Happens When You Get Hepatitis B

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Hepatitis B can be acute or chronic. Most adults who get infected with the hepatitis B virus will get rid of the virus within 6 months and develop protection against it. Once they clear it, they cannot be infected with the hepatitis B virus again and cannot pass it on to others. This is called acute hepatitis B.

When the infection lasts for more than 6 months, the person has developed chronic hepatitis B. 90% of babies who get hepatitis B will develop chronic infection which can cause liver damage, liver failure and sometimes liver cancer when they are adults.

Age of infection
ADULTS 5 out of 100

The younger a person is when they get hepatitis B, the higher the risk of developing liver damage and liver cancer as an adult. The majority of people living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia were born overseas and got hepatitis B when they were babies or young children.

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Our Areas Of Innovation For Hepatitis B

Liver biopsies provide a great deal of information about the extent of damage in a childs liver, but the procedure is invasive and can be both painful and risky. Researchers at Boston Childrens are investigating an ultrasound-based imaging technology called FibroScan that may be able to help doctors assess liver scarring without the need for a biopsy.

When To Contact A Doctor

A person should contact a doctor if they think that they may have had exposure to hepatitis B. The doctor can run a blood test to look for the presence of the infection and determine the next steps.

People who are concerned about contracting the virus may want to ask a doctor about getting the hepatitis B vaccine. This will protect them from future infections.

People who are living with a known case of chronic hepatitis B should visit a doctor regularly for screenings and blood tests to monitor the virus.

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What Are The Types Of Hepatitis B

There are two types of hepatitis B infection: acute and chronic.

Acute

An acute infection happens at the beginning, when you first get infected with hepatitis B. Many people are able to clear it from their bodies and recover. In fact, this is true of about 4 in 5 adults who are infected.

Chronic

If you are not able to clear the infection within six months or longer, you have chronic hepatitis B. It is chronic hepatitis B that leads to inflammation and the serious, and possibly fatal, illnesses of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Treatment can slow disease progress, reduce the chance of liver cancer and increase your chances of surviving.

Hepatitis B Can Also Be Passed On:

Prevention of hepatitis B and C
  • Through injections, medical and dental procedures in countries where equipment is not sterilised properly. In Australia, these are safe.
  • Through blood transfusions in countries where blood is not checked for hepatitis B. In Australia these are safe.
  • Through traditional practices that may involve blood, e.g. acupuncture.
  • Using tattooing equipment that has not been sterilised properly. This includes cosmetic tattooing.

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Testing Treating And Reducing Risk Of Hepatitis

If you think youre at risk for hepatitis infection, talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested. A blood test is usually done to see if you have been exposed to the virus. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should get tested for hepatitis.

Get treated for hepatitis infection

There are treatments for hepatitis. Treating long-lasting hepatitis B or C infection can reduce the amount of the virus in a person, which may lower the risk of liver cancer.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis B And C

In most patients, hepatitis B develops slowly over the course of several decades, and thus most patients have no symptoms. People who have advanced liver disease such as cirrhosis of the liver may experience complications and symptoms that reflect liver failure. Other symptoms include:

  • A buildup of fluid within the abdominal cavity
  • Confusion and tremors , which are complications due to the inability of the liver to filter out toxins that are normally cleaned out by a healthy liver
  • Vomiting of blood, or blood within the stool . This is a complication in which enlarged veins within the esophagus or stomach bleed as a consequence of increased pressure around the diseased liver.

Most patients with chronic hepatitis C infection report no symptoms. But some patients may have very nonspecific symptoms related to fatigue and discomfort on the right side of the abdomen. Often, symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of hepatitis C are noticeable only at the end stage of liver disease, when the patient has developed liver cirrhosis and liver failure.

Because hepatitis B and C typically have no specific symptoms, many people who have the viruses dont even know it.

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How Many People Have Hepatitis B

In the United States, an estimated 862,000 people were chronically infected with HBV in 2016. New cases of HBV infection in the United States had been decreasing until 2012. Since that time, reported cases of acute hepatitis B have been fluctuating around 3,000 cases per year. In 2019, 3,192 cases of acute hepatitis B were reported however, because of low case detection and reporting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were 20,700 acute hepatitis B infections. New HBV infections are likely linked to the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States.

Globally, HBV is the most common blood-borne infection with an estimated 296 million people infected according to the World Health Organization .

Does Hepatitis B Go Away

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In most cases, hepatitis B goes away on its own. You can relieve your symptoms at home by resting, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Also, find out from your doctor what medicines and herbal products to avoid, because some can make liver damage caused by hepatitis B worse.

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Preparing For An Appointment

You’re likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases, you may be referred immediately to a specialist. Doctors who specialize in treating hepatitis B include:

  • Doctors who treat digestive diseases
  • Doctors who treat liver diseases
  • Doctors who treat infectious diseases

How Can We Stop The Spread Of Hepatitis B

Vaccination is the best way for your family and those close to you to be protected against hepatitis B.

In Australia, all mothers are offered free vaccination for their babies when they are born. To be fully protected, the baby will need other doses in the first 12 months. The vaccine is safe and effective.

Free vaccination is also available for children and adolescents, as well as family and people in close contact with someone who has hepatitis B. Ask your doctor for more information.

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What Occupations Have Increased Risk Of Hepatitis B

In general, occupational groups with increased risk include:

  • Health-care workers repeatedly exposed to blood or blood products or those who are at risk of needlestick injury.
  • Pathologists, laboratory personnel, or embalmers.
  • Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists.
  • Certain staff members of institutions for the developmentally handicapped.
  • Staff of institutions where workers may be exposed to aggressive, biting residents.

Travellers to regions with intermediate or high rates of endemic HBV infection may also consider being vaccinated.

Why Is The Hepatitis B Vaccine Important

The Truth about Hepatitis B

Because of the vaccine, cases of acute hepatitis B have decreased by a lot in the United States. But chronic hepatitis B is still common up to 2.2 million people in the United States have it. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to serious liver problems and even death.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by a virus. There are 2 types of hepatitis B:

  • Acute hepatitis B
  • Chronic hepatitis B

Many children who get acute hepatitis B dont have any symptoms, but most adults do. Symptoms may include:

  • Dark pee or clay-colored poop
  • Pain in the muscles, joints, and stomach

Acute hepatitis B symptoms usually last a few weeks but they can last as long as 6 months.

If the acute hepatitis B infection does not go away after 6 months, its considered a chronic hepatitis B infection. Most people who have chronic hepatitis B dont have symptoms at first. But chronic hepatitis B is a lifelong illness that can lead to serious and possibly deadly liver problems, like:

  • Has sex with a person who has hepatitis B
  • Touches the blood or open sores of a person who has hepatitis B

All children and most adults need to get the hepatitis B vaccine.

Infants and children

All children need to get the hepatitis B vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule.

Children need 3 doses of the vaccine at the following ages:

  • Birth for the first dose
  • 1 through 2 months for the second dose
  • 6 through 18 months for the third dose

Adults

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