Immunisation For Hepatitis B
Immunisation is the best protection against hepatitis B infection. A course of vaccination is recommended for all babies and people in high-risk groups.
Immunisation can be with a vaccine against hepatitis B alone or with a combination vaccine. To be immunised, contact your doctor or local council.
Protection against hepatitis B is available free of charge under the National Immunisation Program Schedule. In Victoria, immunisation against hepatitis B is free for:
- Babies at birth immunisation against hepatitis B alone as soon as possible after birth.
- Babies at 2, 4 and 6 months combination immunisation in the form of a diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine .
- Premature babies at 12 months premature babies born under 32 weeks gestation or under 2,000g birth weight receive a single booster dose.
- Children up to and including 9 years of age.
- People aged less than 20 years having a catch-up immunisation.
- Refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 20 years and above.
In Victoria, free hepatitis B vaccine is provided for people who are at increased risk of infection, including:
Immunisation is also recommended, but not necessarily free, for people who are at increased risk of infection, including:
Who Should Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine
All newborn babies should get vaccinated. You should also get the shot if you:
- Come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of friends or family members
- Use needles to take recreational drugs
- Have sex with more than one person
- Are a health care worker
- Work in a day-care center, school, or jail
Deterrence And Patient Education
Patient education remains one of the most important components in preventative measures regarding HBV infection.
Education should be provided to expecting parents about the importance of vaccination and to clarify erroneous beliefs about vaccinations.Patient education should also include counseling about the avoidance of risky behaviors that predispose an individual to be infected, including promiscuous sexual activity or intravenous drug abuse. They should also be advised not to share items such as shaving razors, toothbrushes, or hair combs due to possible transmission via mucosal contact or through microtrauma to protective barriers.
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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.
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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Epidemiology Of Hdv Infection
HDV infection is a significant source of healthcare and economic burden. Globally, it is estimated that 510.6% of individuals with chronic HBV are coinfected with HDV, representing up to 72 million people worldwide . The prevalence of HDV/HBV coinfection varies geographically. HDV coinfection is highly endemic in the Mediterranean basin, Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran, Mongolia, Romania, Central Africa, West Africa, and the Amazon Basin, with estimates of prevalence exceeding 20% in these regions . The prevalence of HDV coinfection has been reported to be as high as 42% in the Brazilian Amazon , and 75% among HIV-infected injection drug users in Taiwan . In the US, HDV/HBV coinfection is associated with higher healthcare utilization and costs than HBV monoinfection .
As a result of HBV vaccination, the prevalence of HDV infection has declined since the 1990s in certain parts of Europe, particularly Italy , Spain , and Turkey , where the prevalence has stabilized around 811% . However, a resurgence of HDV infection has been observed in some countries due to increases in injection drug use, unprotected sex, and immigration of persons from highly endemic regions .
Treatment Of Acute Liver Failure Due To Hepatitis B
No placebo-controlled trial has been published in the setting of established acute liver failure, but several cases series have suggested lower mortality in patients with fulminant hepatitis B compared to case series of patients who did not receive antiviral therapy. Most of these studies recruited patients before they had progressed to more advanced hepatic encephalopathy . In a study recruiting patients with more advanced liver failure, no benefit of nucleoside on survival was observed , but those authors still concluded that nucleoside analogues would be indicated in such patients to reduce viral load prior to potential liver transplantation. It is likely that early intervention is crucial. N-acetyl cysteine, which is highly effective in preventing death from liver failure from paracetamol/acetaminophen overdosing, has limited efficacy once hepatic encephalopathy is present. While early antiviral intervention is likely to be more effective when given early, we suggest that it should also be given at later time points, as it at least diminishes the risk of HBV reinfection should liver transplantation be required. In case of transplantation, it is unclear whether antiviral therapy can be stopped soon after or if long-term antiviral treatment is required. If transplantation can be avoided, antiviral treatment should be continued at least until HBsAg clearance.
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Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test
A hepatitis B surface antigen test shows if you have an active infection. A positive result means you have hepatitis B and can transmit the virus to others. A negative result means you dont currently have hepatitis B.
This test doesnt distinguish between chronic and acute infection. This test is used together with other hepatitis B tests to determine the state of a hepatitis B infection.
Acute Vs Chronic Hepatitis B
A hepatitis B infection can result in either an acute infection or a chronic infection. When a person is first infected with the hepatitis B virus, it is called an acute infection . Most healthy adults that are infected do not have any symptoms and are able to get rid of the virus without any problems. Some adults are unable to get rid of the virus after six months and they are diagnosed as having a chronic infection. A simple blood test can diagnose an acute or chronic hepatitis B infection.
The risk of developing a chronic hepatitis B infection is directly related to the age at which a person is first exposed to the hepatitis B virus. The younger a person is when they are first infected, the greater the risk of developing a chronic hepatitis B infection:
- More than 90% of infants that are infected will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection
- Up to 50% of young children between 1 and 5 years who are infected will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection
- 5-10% of healthy adults 19 years and older who are infected will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection
The recommendation for hepatitis B vaccination of babies and children is so important because they are at the greatest risk of developing a chronic infection if they are not protected against the hepatitis B virus as soon as possible.
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World Health Organization Recommendations
The 2015 WHO guidelines for the prevention, care, and treatment of persons with chronic hepatitis B infection indicates treatment priority for individuals of all ages who have chronic hepatitis B infection and clinical evidence of compensated/decompensated cirrhosis , regardless of their levels of ALT or HBV DNA, or their HBeAg status.
Treatment is recommended for adults with chronic hepatitis B infection without clinical evidence of cirrhosis , but who have all of the following features , and regardless of HBeAg status :
- Are older than 30 years
- Have persistently abnormal ALT levels
- Have evidence of high-level HBV replication .
In individuals with HBV/human immunodeficiency virus coinfection, the AASLD recommends initiating ART in all those with evidence of severe chronic liver disease, regardless of CD4 count, as well as those with a CD4 count of 500 cells/mm3 or below, regardless of their liver disease stage.
However, the AASLD does not recommend antiviral therapy, indicating it can be deferred, in individuals with all of the following , regardless of HBeAg status or age :
- No clinical evidence of cirrhosis
- Persistently normal ALT levels
- Low levels of HBV DNA replication . ]
What Causes Hepatitis B
- being born to a mother with hepatitis B
- having unprotected sex with an infected person
- sharing drug needles or other drug materials with an infected person
- getting an accidental stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- being tattooed or pierced with tools that were used on an infected person and werent properly sterilized, or cleaned in a way that destroys all viruses and other microbes
- having contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
- using an infected persons razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers
You cant get hepatitis B from
- being coughed on or sneezed on by an infected person
- drinking unclean water or untreated water that has not been boiled
- eating food that is unclean or has not been properly cooked
- hugging an infected person
- shaking hands or holding hands with an infected person
- sharing spoons, forks, and other eating utensils
- sitting next to an infected person
Mothers who have hepatitis B can safely breastfeed their babies. If a baby receives hepatitis B immune globulin and starts receiving the hepatitis B vaccine to prevent hepatitis B infection shortly after birth, hepatitis B is unlikely to spread from mother to child through breastfeeding.15
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Who Should Be Vaccinated For Hepatitis B
All newborns should be vaccinated. Also, people who are under 18 who were not vaccinated at birth should also get the vaccine. Other groups who should be sure to be vaccinated are those in certain high-risk categories, such as:
- People who have more than one sexual partner.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Adults with diabetes.
- Sexual partners of infected people and people who share households with infected individuals.
- People who are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids, including healthcare and public safety professionals, and people who work in jails and other places taking care of people who cant take care of themselves.
Causes Of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood that contains the hepatitis B virus. If infected blood or body fluids enter another persons bloodstream, that person may become infected.
The time from exposure to the hepatitis B virus to the appearance of the illness is 45 to 180 days.
Risky activities that can cause infection include:
- Sharing unsterile or unclean equipment for injecting drugs.
- Piercing the skin with equipment that is not properly cleaned, disinfected and sterilised.
- Sharing razor blades or toothbrushes.
- Coming into contact with infected blood through open cuts or the mucous membranes of another person.
- Having unprotected sex , especially if there is blood present.
Mothers who have hepatitis B can pass the virus to their babies or children at the time of birth or after birth. If the newborn baby is quickly immunised with 2 vaccines, they can be protected from getting hepatitis B.
All blood and blood products produced for medical purposes in Australia are carefully screened for hepatitis B and other blood-borne viruses. The risk of getting infected with hepatitis B from a blood transfusion is extremely low .
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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
Hepatitis B Virus/hiv Coinfection
Approximately 5% to 10% of people with HIV in the United States also have chronic hepatitis B virus infection.1 The progression of chronic HBV to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, or hepatocellular carcinoma is more rapid in persons with HBV/HIV coinfection than in persons with chronic HBV monoinfection.2 Conversely, chronic HBV does not substantially alter the progression of HIV infection and does not influence HIV suppression or CD4 T lymphocyte cell responses following initiation of antiretroviral therapy .3,4 However, antiretroviral drug toxicities or several liver-associated complications attributed to flares in HBV activity after initiation or discontinuation of dually active ARV drugs can affect the treatment of HIV in patients with HBV/HIV coinfection.5-7 These complications include the following:
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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.
Hepatitis B In The United States
In the United States, about 862,000 people have chronic hepatitis B.6 Asian Americans and African Americans have higher rates of chronic hepatitis B than other U.S. racial and ethnic groups.10 Researchers estimate that about half of the people living with chronic hepatitis B in the United States are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.11 Chronic hepatitis B is also more common among people born in other countries than among those born in the United States.7
The hepatitis B vaccine has been available since the 1980s and, in 1991, doctors began recommending that children in the United States receive the hepatitis B vaccine. The annual rate of acute hepatitis B infections went down 88.5 percent between 1982 and 2015.12 In 2017, the annual number of hepatitis B infections rose in some states.13 Experts think the rise was related to increases in injection drug use. Injection drug use increases the risk of hepatitis B infection.
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Prevent Hepatitis B Infections In Newborns
If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, talk with your doctor about lowering the risk that the infection will spread to your baby. Your doctor will check your virus levels during pregnancy. If virus levels are high, your doctor may recommend treatment during pregnancy to lower virus levels and reduce the chance that hepatitis B will spread to your baby. Your doctor may refer you to a liver specialist to find out if you need hepatitis B treatment and to check for liver damage.
When it is time to give birth, tell the doctor and staff who deliver your baby that you have hepatitis B. A health care professional should give your baby the hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG right after birth. The vaccine and HBIG will greatly reduce the chance of your baby getting the infection.
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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