Hepatitis B (HBV)

Description, causes, prevention, treatment and medicines

What is HBV?

A liver infection caused by hep B virus.
Most people who get hep B as an adult clear the infection.
Most people who get hep B early in life don't clear their infection and have risk of liver disease later in life.

Window period of Hepatitis B

(the time between infection and the illness showing up in blood tests)

8 weeks (HBsAg)

What Hepatitis B is transmitted by?

  • Mother to baby.
  • Blood-to-blood contact (when someone's blood gets into another person's bloodstream).
  • Sexual contact.

Things which put people at risk of HBV

  • Not being vaccinated as a baby.
  • Being born to a mum who has hep B. 
  • Sexual contact with a person who has hep B.
  • Sharing fits and equipment when injecting drugs.
  • Having a needlestick injury. 
  • Tattooing or body piercing with contaiminated equipment.

Symptoms in short term infection

Often no symptoms, but if they do appear, they include jaundice (see left), dark urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea and joint pain.

Symptoms in long term infection

Fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and pains or abdominal discomfort.

Treatment

For chronic hep B: entecavir (Baraclude) or tenofovir (Viread). Some people are treated with pegylated interferon. Other medications are available but are less effective and not often used as a first option.

Vaccine

Yes. It is safe and effective.
Is part of universal childhood vaccination.

Prevention

Get vaccinated.
Newborn babies should be given immunoglobulin (see left) within 12 hours of birth.
Don't share fits or other equipment when injecting drugs.
Avoid blood-to-blood contact.
Avoid backyard tatooists and piercers. Use shops that follow proper sterile procedures.
Practise safer sex.

Note: This information may not be actual at the time of reading. Always look for actual instructions in the package with the medication.
It is forbidden to use these materials without the advice of healthcare professional.

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