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What To Do If You Have Hepatitis B

Is There A Cure For Chronic Hepatitis B

What you need to know about Hepatitis B

Currently, there is no complete cure for hepatitis B. But when managed properly, those living with the virus can expect to live a normal life. Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are crucial components in managing the disease.

You should also visit a doctor familiar with hepatitis B at least annuallythough twice a year might be best to monitor your liver through blood tests and medical imaging. As with most diseases, detecting it early leads to a better outcome. If youre exposed to the virus, you should get an antibody injection within 12 hours of exposure.

Hepatitis B Causes And Risk Factors

Itâs caused by the hepatitis B virus, and it can spread from person to person in certain ways. You can spread the hepatitis B virus even if you donât feel sick.

The most common ways to get hepatitis B include:

  • Sex. You can get it if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it and your partnerâs blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body.
  • Sharing needles. The virus spreads easily via needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood.
  • Accidental needle sticks.Health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood can get it this way.
  • Mother to child.Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass it to their babies during childbirth. But thereâs a vaccine to prevent newborns from becoming infected.

Hepatitis B doesnât spread through kissing, food or water, shared utensils, coughing or sneezing, or through touch.

Diagnosis Of Hepatitis B

Blood tests are available to determine if you are or have been infected with hepatitis B. It may take 6 months from the time of infection before a blood test can detect antibodies to hepatitis B, so follow-up testing may be required. During this 6-month period, until you know whether you are infected or not, take action to prevent potential infection of other people.

There are also tests that can assess liver damage from hepatitis B. The interpretation of these tests can be complicated and specialist advice is needed, so talk to your doctor.

All pregnant women are tested for hepatitis B. If you are found to have chronic hepatitis B, your doctor can help reduce the risk of transferring the infection to your newborn child.

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Complications Of Hepatitis B

A small proportion of people who become infected with the hepatitis B virus develop a long-term hepatitis B infection. They may have the virus in their bloodstream for most of their life without realising they are infected.

People with chronic hepatitis B infection may not notice any health problems until they develop liver problems such as liver disease or liver cancer later in life. Treatment for hepatitis B is essential because it is not possible to be a healthy carrier of the hepatitis B virus. Chronic hepatitis B infection occurs more commonly in some communities, including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • In people from parts of the world where hepatitis B is more common, such as:
  • North-East Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa.

What Do I Need To Know About Having Hepatitis B

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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.

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Hepatitis B And Pregnancy

If youâre pregnant, you might pass the virus to your baby at birth. Itâs less likely to happen during your pregnancy.

If your baby gets the virus and isnât treated, they could have long-term liver problems. All newborns with infected mothers should get hepatitis B immune globulin and the vaccine for hepatitis at birth and during their first year of life.

How Is The Hbcab Test Done

This is a blood test. A clinician will fill a tube with blood taken from a vein in your arm through which a needle is inserted. If you are giving blood, a sample will be taken from the blood you’re donating. The blood is sent to a lab, where it is tested. Sometimes HBcAb will be added on to lab orders when results from other tests indicate there may be a hepatitis B infection.

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How Can I Prevent Spreading Hepatitis B To Others

If you have hepatitis B, follow the steps above to avoid spreading the infection. Your sex partners should get a hepatitis B test and, if they arent infected, get the hepatitis B vaccine. You can protect others from getting infected by telling your doctor, dentist, and other health care professionals that you have hepatitis B. Dont donate blood or blood products, semen, organs, or tissue.

Hepatitis And Sex: Frequently Asked Questions

The Truth about Hepatitis B

Itâs widely known that viral hepatitis can spread through consuming contaminated food or sharing dirty hypodermic needles. But the liver-destroying disease can also sometimes be spread through sexual contact. Hereâs what you need to know to protect yourself.

How many kinds of viral hepatitis are there?

Scientists have identified at least five types of viral hepatitis that lead to liver problems. In the U.S., the main threats are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Can all types be spread by sexual contact?

Hepatitis A spreads via fecal-oral contact, which can occur if there is direct oral-anal contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person. If even a microscopic amount of virus-laden feces gets into the mouth, infection potentially can result.

Are men and women equally at risk of getting and spreading hepatitis through sex?

The risk is determined by a personâs behavior, not their gender, although some studies have shown that it is easier for a man to transmit HCV to a woman than vice versa.

Men who have sex with men are 10 to 15 times more likely than the general population to be infected with hepatitis B.

How can I make sure my partner is free of hepatitis before we have sex?

Are some sex acts especially likely to transmit hepatitis?

Any sexual activity that might cause abrasions, cuts, or other trauma is especially risky.

Is it possible to catch hepatitis from kissing?

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What Are The Risk Factors For Getting Hepatitis B

Due to the way that hepatitis B spreads, people most at risk for getting infected include:

  • Children whose mothers have been infected with hepatitis B.
  • Children who have been adopted from countries with high rates of hepatitis B infection.
  • People who have unprotected sex and/or have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
  • People who live with or work in an institutional setting, such as prisons or group homes.
  • Healthcare providers and first responders.
  • People who share needles or syringes.
  • People who live in close quarters with a person with chronic hepatitis B infection.
  • People who are on dialysis.

What Treatments Are Available For Chronic Hepatitis B If Medications Dont Work

If you have advanced hepatitis B, you might also become a candidate for a liver transplant. This path does not always result in a cure because the virus continues in your bloodstream after a transplant. To prevent being infected again after your transplant, you may be prescribed hepatitis B immunoglobulin with an antiviral agent.

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When To Get Medical Advice

Hepatitis B can be serious, so you should get medical advice if:

  • you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus emergency treatment can help prevent infection if given within a few days of exposure
  • you have symptoms associated with hepatitis B
  • you’re at a high risk of hepatitis B high-risk groups include people born in a country where the infection is common, babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B, and people who have ever injected drugs

You can go to your local GP surgery, drug service, genitourinary medicine clinic or sexual health clinic for help and advice.

A blood test can be carried out to check if you have hepatitis B or have had it in the past.

The hepatitis B vaccine may also be recommended to reduce your risk of infection.

Chronic Hepatitis B Complications

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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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How Common Is Hepatitis B

The number of people who get this disease is down, the CDC says. Rates have dropped from an average of 200,000 per year in the 1980s to around 20,000 in 2016. People between the ages of 20 and 49 are most likely to get it.

About 90% of infants and 25-50% of children between the ages of 1-5 will become chronically infected. In adults, approximately 95% will recover completely and will not go on to have a chronic infection.

As many as 1.2 million people in the U.S. are carriers of the virus.

What Can Travelers Do To Prevent Disease

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a routine vaccination that infants in the United States receive at birth. The hepatitis B vaccine is over 90% effective at preventing infection and has been routinely recommended for infants since 1991. The vaccine is given in 2, 3, or 4 shots and the series of shots is usually completed by 6 months of age.

The hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for unvaccinated travelers of all ages going to countries where hepatitis B infection is common. The vaccine is given in 2 or 3 doses. Check if Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for your destination.

If you trip is soon, talk to your doctor about accelerated dosing and ask about getting the combination hepatitis A/hepatitis B vaccine.

If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.

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Living With Hepatitis B

If you have hepatitis, you should:

  • avoid having unprotected sex, including anal and oral sex, unless you’re sure your partner has been vaccinated against hepatitis B
  • avoid sharing needles used to inject drugs with other people
  • take precautions to avoid the spread of infection, such as not sharing toothbrushes or razors with other people
  • eat a generally healthy, balanced diet there’s no special diet for people with hepatitis B
  • avoid drinking alcohol this can increase your risk of developing serious liver problems
  • speak to your doctor if you’re thinking of having a baby

People with hepatitis B can usually have a healthy pregnancy, but it’s a good idea to discuss your plans with a doctor first as you may need extra care and your medications may need to be changed.

There’s a risk of pregnant women with hepatitis B passing the infection on to their child around the time of the birth, but this risk can be reduced by ensuring the baby is vaccinated shortly after they’re born.

Page last reviewed: 30 January 2019 Next review due: 30 January 2022

How Do People Get The Hbv Virus

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Hepatitis B virus is found in the blood of people with HBV infection. It enters the body through blood-to-blood contact.

Reliable blood tests for HBV were developed many years ago. Since blood donors and blood products are tested for HBV, this is no longer the typical means of infection.

In many parts of the world, hepatitis B virus infects more than 8% of the population. HBV-infected women pass the infection to their babies during the birth process. People can also get hepatitis B by sharing needles for injection drug use, through sexual contact with an infected person, by an accidental needlestick with a contaminated needle, or from improperly sterilized medical, acupuncture, piercing, or tattooing equipment.

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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.

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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Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented Or Avoided

The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to always have protected sex and, if you use intravenous drugs, avoid sharing needles.

A vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis B. It is now routinely given in the first year of life to all newborn infants. It is safe and requires 3 shots over a 6-month period. This vaccine should be given to people who are at high risk for this illness, such as healthcare workers, all children, people who travel to areas where the infection is widespread, drug users, and those who have multiple sex partners.

How Many People Have Hepatitis B

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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 2018, 3,322 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 21,600 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 257 million people infected according to the World Health Organization .

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What To Know About Each Type

Hepatitis is a condition that occurs when your liver becomes inflamed. There are several things that can cause hepatitis, including viral infections, autoimmune conditions, and heavy alcohol use.

Many times, hepatitis is caused by a virus. When this happens, its called viral hepatitis. The most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States are:

  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis C

These forms of hepatitis are each caused by a different virus and are spread in different ways. Some infections caused by these viruses may only last a short amount of time , while others may be long-lasting .

In this article, well break down the differences between hepatitis A, B, and C in greater detail.

Viral hepatitis is a condition that causes inflammation of your liver. When a hepatitis virus enters your body, it travels to the liver. It can then enter liver cells and begin to replicate, making more of itself.

The activity of the virus can cause damage to your liver cells. Immune cells begin to travel to your liver to fight the infection. This can also contribute to inflammation.

Liver damage and inflammation can affect your livers ability to function, which can in turn affect your overall health. This is because your liver has several important functions for your body, including:

The symptoms of hepatitis A, B, and C are all fairly similar. They may include:

Areas of the world where hepatitis A is more common include certain parts of:

  • Africa
  • Eastern Europe

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.

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