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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis A information                                         Hepatitis C information

What is hepatitis B?

What causes hepatitis B?

How could I get hepatitis B?

What are the symptoms for hepatitis B?

What are the tests for hepatitis B?

How is hepatitis B treated?

How can I protect myself hepatitis B?

Where can I buy a home test kit for hepatitis?



What is hepatitis B? (top)

Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver, that  can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.


What causes hepatitis B? (top)

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus. A virus is a germ that causes sickness. People can pass viruses to each other. The virus that causes hepatitis B is called the hepatitis B virus (HBV).


How could I get hepatitis B? (top)

Hepatitis B spreads by contact with an infected person's blood, semen, or other body fluid. Some ways you can get hepatitis b include:

  • having sex with an infected person without using a condom

  • sharing drug needles

  • having a tattoo or body piercing done with dirty tools that were used on someone else

  • getting pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it (health care workers can get hepatitis B this way)

  • living with someone who has hepatitis B

  • sharing a toothbrush or razor with an infected person

  • traveling to countries where hepatitis B is common

  • an infected woman can give hepatitis B to her baby at birth or through her breast milk.

You can NOT get hepatitis B by:

  • shaking hands with an infected person

  • hugging an infected person

  • sitting next to an infected person

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B? (top)

Hepatitis B can make you feel like you have the flu. Some symptoms include:

  • feeling tired

  • feeling sick to your stomach

  • fever

  • loss of appetite

  • stomach pain

  • diarrhea

  • dark yellow urine

  • light-colored stools

  • yellowish eyes and skin

Some people don't have any symptoms. If you have symptoms or think you might have hepatitis B, go to a doctor. The doctor will test your blood.


What are the tests for hepatitis B? (top)

To check for hepatitis B, the doctor will test your blood. These tests show if you have hepatitis B and how serious it is. 

The doctor may also do a liver biopsy. A biopsy is a simple test. The doctor removes a tiny piece of your liver through a needle. The doctor checks the piece of liver for signs of hepatitis B and liver damage.


How is hepatitis B treated? (top)

Treatment for hepatitis B may include:

  • A drug called interferon that is given through shots. Most people are treated for 4 months.

  • A drug called lamivudine that take it by mouth once a day. Treatment is usually for one year.

  • A drug called adefovir dipivoxil that you take by mouth once a day. Treatment is usually for one year.

  • Surgery. Over time, hepatitis B may cause your liver to stop working. If that happens, you will need a new liver. The surgery is called a liver transplant. It involves taking out the old, damaged liver and putting in a new, healthy one from a donor


How can I protect myself hepatitis B? (top)

You can get the hepatitis B vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is given through three shots. All babies should get the vaccine. Infants get the first shot within 12 hours after birth. They get the second shot at age 1 to 2 months and the third shot between ages 6 and 18 months.  Older children and adults can get the vaccine, too. They get three shots over 6 months. Children who have not had the vaccine should get it.

You need all of the shots to be protected. If you are traveling to other countries, make sure you get all the shots before you go. If you miss a shot, call your doctor or clinic right away to set up a new appointment.

Other ways to protect yourself and others from hepatitis B include:

  • using a condom when you have sex

  • not sharing drug needles with anyone

  • wearing gloves if you have to touch anyone's blood

  • not using an infected person's toothbrush, razor, or anything else that could have blood on it

  • making sure any tattooing or body piercing is done with clean tools


Click here to buy a home test kit for hepatitis


Click below for our additional hepatitis sites

Hepatitis A information                                         Hepatitis C information


For more information on all types of Hepatitis, please visit the Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI)






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