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What Is Hepatitis B?

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a contagious viral infection 

that can cause liver scarring, failure, and cancer. 

 

It’s spread through contact with semen, vaginal fluids, 

and blood, which can happen during sex.

 

According to the Hepatitis B Foundation, up to 80,000 

Americans will become newly infected with hepatitis B each year.

 

Hepatitis B can be potentially fatal, but most healthy 

adults fight off the infection in its acute (mild, early) stage and make a total recovery.

 

However, if hepatitis B lasts a long time, it can cause liver disease. 

1 in 20 people infected with hepatitis B 

become carriers of a chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B, which can be life-threatening. 

About 1 in 5 people with chronic hepatitis B die from it.

 

Acute Hepatitis B Infection

An acute hepatitis B infection is a short-term illness 

that runs its course within 6 months after exposure. 

 

The intensity of the infection can be mild with few or

 no symptoms (asymptomatic), or it can be 

very serious with the potential of requiring hospitalization, 

although this is rare.

Chronic Hepatitis B Infection

 

A chronic hepatitis B infection is diagnosed 

when HBV lasts longer than six months.

 

If hepatitis B remains in the blood this long, it 

means the immune system was not able to

 clear the infection, putting the liver at high risk of serious complications.

 

It is highly recommended that people with a chronic 

HBV infection seek the care of a doctor to be monitored regularly 

for signs of liver disease and evaluated for possible treatment.

 

If the chronic infection is not managed, over time it can cause

 liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.

 

The chances that an acute infection may turn into 

a long-term chronic infection decrease with age.

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How Is It Transmitted?

HBV may be transmitted when blood, semen, or

another bodily fluid from an infected person

with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.

 

You can also get it by having unprotected sex with someone who has hepatitis B.

Risk Factors

All individuals who are not immune to HBV are at risk of acquiring hepatitis B.

 

However, your chances increase if you:

  • Have unprotected sexual contact with multiple partners or with someone who is infected with HBV
  • Engage in anal sex or oral-anal contact
  • Live with someone who has a chronic HBV infection
  • Are an infant born to an infected mother
  • Have a job that exposes you to human blood
  • Travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV
  •  
  • Share items such as toothbrushes, razors,
  • or medical equipment such as a glucose monitor with an infected person
  • Have direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
  • Share needles or experience accidental needle sticks

 

Most pregnant women do not know whether they are

infected with hepatitis B and can unknowingly

pass the virus to their new-borns during childbirth, putting the new-born at high risk.

According to the Hepatitis B Foundation, if they are infected with hepatitis B:

  •  
  • More than 90% of infants will develop chronic HBV
  • Up to 50% of children between 1 and 5 years
  • will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection

 

If you are experiencing symptoms or find that you may have

recently been exposed to hepatitis B, consider getting tested.

 

Can Hepatitis B Spread Through Sex?

Yes, in the United States, hepatitis B is most commonly spread through sex.

In fact, this form of transmissions accounts for nearly two-thirds of acute hepatitis B cases!

 

Also, hepatitis B is 50-100 times more infectious than

HIV and can be passed through the exchange of body fluids,

such as semen, vaginal fluids, and blood.

 

Prevention

The number one way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting

vaccinated for the virus prior to being exposed to it.

 

To lower your risk, practice safer sex by consistently using condoms or dental dams

and don’t share needles. Being in a monogamous relationship

with someone who is not infected with hepatitis B will also prevent infection.

 

Also, talking about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

with your new partner before engaging in a sexual relationship

is another way to prevent getting hepatitis B.

 

For More Information On This Subject

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