Hep B (Hepatitis B)

Hep B (Hepatitis B) is a contagious, viral infection of the liver that can cause chronic liver disease.

At-Risk Populations

  • Anyone who has vaginal and/or anal sex with someone else who is infected with Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
  • Anyone who has multiple sex partners
  • Anyone who has a sexually transmitted disease
  • Any man who has sex with other men
  • Anyone who lives with someone who has chronic hepatitis B
  • Infants who are born to mothers infected with HBV
  • Anyone who shares needles, syringes, or works for injecting drugs, piercing, and/or tattooing
  • Anyone who shares or handles razors, nail files, combs, toothbrushes, and/or any other personal care items of someone who has hepatitis B
  • Anyone who is exposed to blood or bodily fluids at work
  • Anyone who has ever had hemodialysis
  • Anyone who travels to countries with moderate to high rates of hepatitis B
  • If you are at-risk for HBV infection, contact your healthcare provider. Early diagnosis will help prevent spreading the disease and protect your liver.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms can start as soon as six weeks after being exposed to HBV or as long as six months after being exposed. On average, symptoms start 90 days after exposure. Many individuals with chronic hepatitis B can be symptom-free for as long as 20 to 30 years.

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal pain
    • Dark-colored urine
    • Clay-colored bowel movements
    • Joint pain
    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

    How It Spreads

    HBV is spread by coming in contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids of someone who has HBV. It can also be spread from a woman to her newborn during childbirth. HBV is not spread by sharing utensils, breastfeeding, kissing, or coughing.

    Prevention

    • Get the hepatitis B vaccine series. (more)The vaccine is usually given as a series of three or four shots during a six-month period.
    • Wear gloves if you come in contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
    • Don't share or reuse needles or works for injecting drugs, for body piercing, or for tattooing. (more)
    • Don't share personal care items, such as toothbrushes, razors, nail files, combs, or washcloths. There may be blood on these items that you cannot see.
    • Use a condom every time you have sex.(more)
    • If you are a healthcare worker, always follow universal precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps. (more)
    • Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG) may be recommended for someone who is exposed to another person who has HBV. (babies born to mothers who have hepatitis B or sex partners of people who have hepatitis B)

    Testing & Diagnosis

    If you think you have been exposed to hepatitis B, contact your healthcare provider to get a hepatitis B blood test.

    Treatment

    Anyone with chronic hepatitis B should get care from a doctor who specializes in treating hepatitis, and the person should be monitored regularly for signs of liver disease. There are several prescription medications that are available to treat chronic hepatitis B.

  • Rest.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not inject or snort drugs.
  • Only take medications that are approved by your healthcare provider.
  • Get hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations.
  • Do not donate your blood, body organs, tissue, or sperm.
  • Do not share toothbrushes, razors, or other personal care articles that might have blood/bodily fluids on them.
  • Cover your cuts and open sores.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex.