Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B

Overview: Hepatitis B

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New Wyoming Cases, 2015: 42

Hepatitis B is a blood borne pathogen that attacks and injures the liver; it is the most common cause of serious liver infection in the world. More than two billion people worldwide have been infected with the hepatitis B virus; in the United States alone, one out of every 20 people will become infected with hepatitis B at some point in their lives.

This disease is not as life-threatening as other infections, but can nevertheless cause many health issues such as liver inflammation, vomiting, jaundice, and, in extreme cases, death. Hepatitis B is spread by engaging in unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who is infected; sharing needles or other drug supplies; accidental contact with infected blood; from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn child; traveling to areas where hepatitis B is common (includes all countries except northern and western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and North America except Mexico).

Fortunately, several vaccines have been developed to immunize against hepatitis B infection. There are also a number of precautions people can take to prevent spreading or contracting the virus: practice safe sex using lubricated latex condoms; do not share personal items that may have come in contact with infected blood (razors, toothbrushes, etc.); do not inject drugs, and never share drug paraphernalia; cover and avoid contact with sores and rashes; notify all medical personal (doctors and dentists) if you are infected; and follow routine barrier precautions if you are in the health or public safety sector.

Symptoms: Hepatitis B

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Sixty-nine percent of those who are infected display no symptoms, leading hepatitis B to be known as the “silent infection.” For those who do experience symptoms, these may include abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, loss of appetite and mild nausea and vomiting.

Treatment: Hepatitis B

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Unlike hepatitis C, hepatitis B has a very high rate of recovery without medical intervention. Approximately 95% of infected people will rebound from a hepatitis B infection will not become chronically infected. However, there is still cause for concern as there are no drugs to cure a chronic infection, only to stop the virus from replicating and causing more severe damage to the liver. Being immunized against both hepatitis A and hepatitis B is still the most effective form of preventative treatment.

See prevention.

Support: Hepatitis B

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