Hepatitis (HBV) Fact Sheet | Hepatitis Central

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Hepatitis (HBV) Fact Sheet

Hepatitis B is an infection of and in the liver caused by the Hepatitis B virus. (HBV) Hepatitis means swelling.

The Hepatitis B virus is in blood, semen, menstrual blood, urine and fecal matter as well as other body fluids of a person who is infected with the Hepatitis B virus. 5- 10% of adults and about 90% of babies who contract Hepatitis B will continue to “carry” the virus for the rest of their lives. “Hepatitis B carriers” can pass the virus on to others.

The Hepatitis B virus is spread by exposure to blood and body fluids of a person infected with the virus. The virus can be spread by sharing needles, sharing snorting straws used by people who snort their drugs, during sex, getting stuck with a dirty needle, or by getting blood or other infected body fluids in the mouth, eyes, or onto broken skin. The virus also can be passed from mother to baby, usually at the time of birth. The virus is not spread by shaking hands, hugging, sharing food or drink.

People who are at a higher risk for contracting the Heptatitis B Virus are:

†Drug users who share needles.
†Drug users who share snorting straws.
†Anyone who has unprotected sex with a man or woman who has the Hepatitis B virus.
†Anyone who has multiple sex partners.
†Babies born to mothers who have the virus.
†People born in Asia, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, the Pacific Islands, Native Americans and Native Alaskans and their children.

People who have hemophilia or who are on kidney dialysis. Health care workers, laboratory workers, emergency workers, , and others who come into contact with blood and body fluids.

People who live with a person who is a Hepatitis B carrier. People who live or work in homes or hospitals for the mentally handicapped.

Symptoms to look for:

†Jaundice(yellowing) of the eyes and/or skin
†Loss of appetite
†Dark-colored urine
†Light stool (sometimes white)
†Aches in muscles and joints

Most children and about half of all adults who get Hepatitis B will never feel sick at all. (Asymptomatic) It will usually require a blood test for these people to verify that they have the HBV virus. It can be as long as 2-8 months before the infection will even show up in a blood test.

People with Hepatitis B will be at a greater risk for cirrhosis and liver cancer later on in life.

Treatment for Hepatitis B:

People who become symptomatic (ill) with the Hepatitis B virus need plenty of rest, fluids, and the right diet and nutrition. They will need to avoid alcohol and certain medications. (Prescription and Over the Counter drugs).

Certain carriers may need medications such as interferon.

Prevention of Hepatitis B

Avoid exposure:

†Use latex condoms (rubbers) when you have sex
†don’t share needles
†don’t share snorting straws
†don’t share personal items like toothbrushes, razors, razor blades, fingernail files, or nail clippers
†avoid exposure to blood and body fluids


If you are in “close” contact with someone with the virus (sex partner, mother-baby contact, sharing needles, living in the same house with a carrier), or if you work in contact with blood, ask about getting the series of shots of the Hepatitis B vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Babies born to mothers with the virus should get the vaccine and a shot called HBIG (Hepatitis B immune globulin). Routine Hepatitis B vaccination of all newborn babies is now recommended.

Tell certain people and do NOT donate blood: People who are sick with Hepatitis B or who are carriers should tell their doctors, dentists, and people they have sex with or share needles or snorting straws with. Remember, do NOT donate blood if you have, or ever had Hepatitis B, even if you never felt sick.