October 13, 2022

What is Hepatitis B?

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What is Hepatitis B Virus?

According to WHO, “The virus is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery, as well as through contact with blood or other body fluids during sex with an infected partner, unsafe injections or exposures to sharp instruments.” Hepatitis B virus is an infection in the liver that can either be acute (short term) or chronic (long-term).

Causes of Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B can be transmitted through:

  • Unprotected sex with a partner with HBV infection
  • Sharing needles
  • Sharing sharp objects or items that can break the mucous membranes or skin such as:
    • Toothbrushes
    • Razors
    • Glucose monitoring equipment
  • During pregnancy or birth
  • Contact with blood from an individual who is HBV positive
  • Exposure to bodily fluids such as:
    • Menstrual fluids
    • Vaginal fluids
    • Seminal fluids

Signs and symptoms

Some individuals do not experience symptoms. Newly infected immunosuppressed adults and most children under the age of five are asymptomatic with HBV. Though 30% to 50% of individuals over the age of five may experience signs and symptoms which include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Joint Pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting

Treatment and Prevention

Acute Hepatitis B – For acute hepatitis B, there is no specific treatment. Maintaining adequate nutrition balance and avoiding unnecessary medication can help with the short term infection.

Chronic Hepatitis B – Medicine can treat chronic hepatitis B which can reduce the incidence of liver cancer and also improve survival. 

The hepatitis B vaccine which is recommended to be taken as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours after birth can help prevent hepatitis B from infants. With two or three doses at least four weeks after the first vaccine is taken. 

It’s Fetch is a community that provides a safe space for members to discuss health and wellness topics. We provide access to archived health related content, note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content shared, regardless of date should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

-Written by Karen Manalac


CDC. (2022, March 30). Hepatitis b faqs for health professionals | cdc. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/hbvfaq.htm

Hepatitis b. (n.d.-a). Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-b

Hepatitis b. (n.d.-b). [Text]. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/hepatitisb.html

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