What is hepatitis b and how is it spread?

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Hepatitis B (hep B) is the most common liver infection in the world.
It is caused by the hep B virus (HBV).
Hep B is spread by contact with an infected person’s
blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Contact can happen
through:
• An infected mother passing the virus to her baby
at birth
• Unprotected sex with an infected person
• Sharing personal items that may have traces of infected
blood on them, such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers,
blood glucose monitors, or recreational drug needles
• Direct contact with open sores on an infected person’s body
• The use of unsterilized tattoo or body-piercing tools
Hep B is not spread through sneezing, coughing, holding hands, hugging,
kissing, sharing utensils, or breastfeeding.

What is chronic hepatitis B?

Chronic hep B is the long-term form of hep B infection.
Chronic hep B is sometimes called a silent killer because
most people have no symptoms until signs of advanced
liver disease appear. But even if people have no symptoms,
they can still spread the virus to others.
If left untreated, up to 1 in 4 people with chronic hep B
develop liver problems such as cirrhosis (severe scarring)
and liver cancer.

Can treatment help?

There is no cure for chronic hep B. But there are several
effective medicines that can help lower the amount of
virus in the body, delay or reduce the risk of liver problems,
reverse the effects of liver disease, and lower the risk of
passing the virus to others. Talk with your healthcare
provider to see if there is a treatment option right for you.

 

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