How Common Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is fairly common in Africa and the western Pacific region. Throughout the world, there are about 292 million people who are infected with chronic hepatitis B. In the U.S., the figure exceeds 2 million people.
The number of infections had been falling in the U.S., but fewer vaccinations among adults combined with the onset of the opioid crisis and injected drug usage has resulted in the numbers rising again. Infected women can pass the infection on to their babies. Children who are infected before age 5 are more likely to have chronic infection than those infected later in life.
What Should You Know About Hepatitis B Before You Travel
Hepatitis B is quite common in China and other Asian countries, where as many as 1 in 12 people have the virus, though many dont know it. Before traveling to those places, you should make sure youve been vaccinated against the virus.
In addition to getting the vaccine, you can take these additional precautions to reduce your risk of contracting the virus:
- Refrain from taking illegal drugs.
- Always use latex or polyurethane condoms during sex.
- Make sure new, sterile needles are used during all piercings, tattoos and acupuncture sessions.
- Avoid direct contact with blood and bodily fluids.
- Know the HBV status of all your sexual partners.
- Ask your doctor about possible vaccination before you travel to a place where hepatitis B is common.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can cause serious damage to your health. One reason that is dangerous is that it can easily go undetected for years while damaging your liver. Talk with your healthcare provider about being tested for hepatitis B if you have any reason to believe that you were not vaccinated or if you have engaged in risky behavior. If you do test positive, follow the directions from your healthcare provider so that you can live a longer, healthier and happier life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/09/2020.
Emergency Hepatitis B Vaccination
If you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus and have not been vaccinated before, you should get immediate medical advice, as you may benefit from having the hepatitis B vaccine.
In some situations, you may also need to have an injection of antibodies, called specific hepatitis B immunoglobulin , along with the hepatitis B vaccine.
HBIG should ideally be given within 48 hours, but you can still have it up to a week after exposure.
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There Is No Vaccine For Hepatitis C Getting Tested Could Save Your Life
LEXINGTON The hepatitis vaccines you receive as a child dont protect you from getting hepatitis C, a serious disease that can have fatal consequences including liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver most often caused by three viruses: hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Most people who get hepatitis C develop a chronic, long-lasting infection that sometimes doesnt present symptoms for months or even years, meaning they can unknowingly spread the virus to others. Millions of Americans have hepatitis C, yet many dont know they are infected. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.
The infection is transmitted mainly by blood-to-blood exposure. Today, most people become infected with hepatitis C by sharing needles, syringes, or any other equipment used to prepare and inject drugs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2.4 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C, with Kentucky having some of the highest infection rates in the country.
The CDC recommends that all adults get tested for hepatitis C. Getting tested is important to find out if you are infected and get lifesaving treatment. Treatments are now available that can cure most people with hepatitis C in eight to 12 weeks.
Hepatitis C is easily preventable. For people who inject drugs, the best way to prevent hepatitis C is to stop injecting.
How Long Can You Live With Hepatitis B
Most people who contract hepatitis B during adulthood fully recover within 1 to 3 months.
People with chronic hepatitis B may have a higher risk of developing long-term liver problems, like cirrhosis or liver cancer, which require treatment and may be life threatening.
Keep in mind that the risk of developing chronic hepatitis B is higher for babies and children, especially if they have not been vaccinated against the virus.
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How Do Doctors Treat The Complications Of Hepatitis B
If chronic hepatitis B leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, minor medical procedures, and surgery. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer.
If chronic hepatitis B leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
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 Do Doctors Treat Hepatitis B
Doctors typically dont treat hepatitis B unless it becomes chronic. Doctors may treat chronic hepatitis B with antiviral medicines that attack the virus.
Not everyone with chronic hepatitis B needs treatment. If blood tests show that hepatitis B could be damaging a persons liver, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medicines to lower the chances of liver damage and complications.
Medicines that you take by mouth include
A medicine that doctors can give as a shot is peginterferon alfa-2a .
The length of treatment varies. Hepatitis B medicines may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of treatment. Tell your doctor before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
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 Laboratory Tests Are Available For Hepatitis B
Tests are available to detect the types of antigens used to identify the hepatitis B virus. The tests determine if the virus is present in the body tissue or blood. The amount of each type of antigen present indicates how advanced the disease is and how infective the individual has become.
Other tests are available to detect the body’s reaction to the viral infection or the body’s reaction to vaccination against the virus. These tests work by measuring the number of antibodies present in the blood.
What Should You Know About Pregnancy And Hepatitis B
A pregnant woman who has hepatitis B can pass the infection to her baby at delivery. This is true for both vaginal and cesarean deliveries.
You should ask your healthcare provider to test you for hepatitis B when you find out you are pregnant. However, while it is important for you and your healthcare provider to know if you do have hepatitis B, the condition should not affect the way that your pregnancy progresses.
If you do test positive, your provider may suggest that you contact another healthcare provider, a liver doctor, who is skilled in managing people with hepatitis B infections. You may have a high viral load and may need treatment during the last 3 months of your pregnancy. A viral load is the term for how much of the infection you have inside of you.
You can prevent your infant from getting hepatitis B infection by making sure that your baby gets the hepatitis B vaccine in the hours after they are born along with the hepatitis B immunoglobulin. These two shots are given in two different locations on the baby. They are the first shots needed.
Depending on the type of vaccine used, two or three more doses must be given, usually when the baby is 1 month old and then 6 months old, with the last by the time the baby is 1 year old. It is critical that all newborns get the hepatitis B vaccination, but even more important if you have hepatitis B yourself.
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Who Is Most At Risk For Chronic Disease
The likelihood that an HBV infection will become chronic depends upon the age at which a person becomes infected, with young children who become infected with HBV being the most likely to develop chronic infections.
About 90% of infants infected during the first year of life develop chronic infections 30% to 50% of children infected between one to four years of age develop chronic infections. About 25% of adults who become chronically infected during childhood die from HBV-related liver cancer or cirrhosis. About 90% of healthy adults who are infected with HBV will recover and be completely rid of the virus within six months.
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.
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How Do I Know If I Have Hbv
A rapid point-of-care test after a finger prick or a simple blood test can tell if you are infected with the hepatitis B virus.
These tests can also help your doctor determine whether you are currently ill with hepatitis B, or if you are a chronic carrier. Although there is no treatment for the disease, bed rest and a good diet are important. Alcohol and medications should be restricted. Follow-up blood tests are necessary to tell if the disease has gone.
Is Hepatitis B Curable
Theres currently no known cure for hepatitis B, but there are many ways you can prevent infection and avoid transmitting the virus to others.
The most effective and safe way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. You can also use barrier methods, like condoms, when having sex and avoid sharing needles.
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What Is Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B adult vaccine is used to help prevent this disease in adults. The dialysis form of this vaccine is for adults receiving dialysis.
This vaccine helps your body develop immunity to hepatitis B, but it will not treat an active infection you already have.
Vaccination with hepatitis B adult vaccine is recommended for all adults who are at risk of getting hepatitis B. Risk factors include: living with someone infected with hepatitis B virus having sexual contact with infected people having hepatitis C, chronicliver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, HIV or AIDS being on dialysis using intravenous drugs living or working in a facility for developmentally disabled people working in healthcare or public safety and being exposed to blood or body fluids living or working in a correctional facility being a victim of sexual abuse or assault and traveling to areas where hepatitis B is common.
Like any vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.
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The Impact Of Worldwide Hepatitis B Vaccination Programs: Model Of Success
A, Immunization coverage with third dose of hepatitis B in infants in 2019. B, Global immunization 19892019 HepB3 coverage in infants. Global coverage was 84% in 2019. Abbreviations: AFR,African region AMR,Americas region EMR,Eastern Mediterranean region EUR,European region SEAR,South-East Asia region WPR,Western Pacific region. Source: United Nations Childrenâs Fund /World Health Organization.
The success of HBV vaccination programs has been clearly demonstrated over the recent years in several regions around the world. Countries that have adopted the recommendation had a marked reduction in carrier rates as well as complications from HBV, including HCC. The low prevalence of chronic HBV infection in children younger than 5 years, reducing from 4.7% in the prevaccine era to less than 1% in 2019, can be attributed to the widespread use of hepatitis B vaccine. Due to the implementation of routinely birth-dose vaccination the greatest decrease appears to be in the Western Pacific region, from 8.3% HBsAg prevalence in the prevaccine era to 0.93% in 20022015 . Among health care workers, hepatitis B vaccination is highly effective for the prevention of healthcare associated HBV infection and chronic infection. Using mathematical models, it was estimated that since their implementation, HBV vaccination programs have averted 210 million new HBV infections globally .
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How Long Does It Last
According to the World Health Organization , the complete vaccine series induces protective antibody levels in of the infants, children, and adolescents who receive it.
Immune memory induced by the HBV vaccine can last for in healthy people. That said, studies into the duration of the protection that the vaccine offers are ongoing.
How Does Medicare Cover The Hepatitis B Vaccine
Medicare Part B benefits include the hep B vaccine as a preventive service if you meet specific criteria. To be eligible for the vaccine, you need to have a specific condition or exposure that puts you at medium-to-high risk for getting the infection. You may qualify if you:
- Have end-stage renal disease , hemophilia or diabetes
- Are employed as a healthcare worker, frequently in contact with bodily fluids, including blood
Only one of the above conditions needs to be met. If you qualify and get the shot from a healthcare provider who accepts assignment from Medicare, the vaccine will be paid in full. If you are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, you may have to visit providers in the plans network.
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Hepatitis B Prevention And Vaccination
Hepatitis B infection is vaccine-preventable. An effective and safe vaccine is used to protect children and adults from the disease. In addition, the implementation of safe injection procedures, blood safety strategies and safer sex practices can protect against HBV transmission. There are simple and effective ways to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B:
- Practice safe sex using protective measures
- Avoid direct contact with bodily fluids and blood
- Wash your hands carefully after any potential exposure
- Clean up blood spills with a disinfecting solution
- Avoid sharing sharp personal items such as nail clippers, razors or toothbrushes
- Cover all wounds and cuts carefully
- Avoid street drugs
- Make sure sterile needles are used for tattoos, piercing, and acupuncture
- Moreover, all blood and blood components used for blood transfusions should undergo quality-assured screening to reduce the chance of getting HBV.
Hepatitis B virus vaccine
Chronic Hepatitis B Complications
Chronic hepatitis B can lead to
- cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents your liver from working normally. Scar tissue also partly blocks the flow of blood through the liver. As cirrhosis gets worse, the liver begins to fail.
- liver failure, in which your liver is badly damaged and stops working. Liver failure is also called end-stage liver disease. People with liver failure may require a liver transplant.
- liver cancer. Your doctor may suggest blood tests and an ultrasound or another type of imaging test to check for liver cancer. Finding cancer at an early stage improves the chance of curing the cancer.
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