Hepatitis A Hepatitis B Hepatitis C Hepatitis D, E, G
Hepatitis Resource Center
 
spacer
 

 
Approximately 1,250,000 Americans are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and 20-30% acquired their infection in childhood... 400,000,000 people worldwide are chronic carriers of the virus... Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than the AIDS virus.

 

HEPATITIS B

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of 20 people in the United States will get infected with hepatitis B some time during their lives. Your risk is higher if you

  • Have sex with someone infected with hepatitis B

  • Have sex with more than one partner

  • Are a man and have sex with a man

  • Live in the same house with someone who has lifelong hepatitis B infection

  • Have a job that involves contact with human blood

  • Shoot drugs

  • Are a patient or work in a home for the developmentally disabled

  • Have hemophilia

  • Travel to area where hepatitis B is common.

Your risk is also higher if your parents were born in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Amazon Basin in South America, the Pacific Islands, and the Middle East.

Your get hepatitis B by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person; for example, you can become infected by having sex or sharing needles with an infected person. A baby can get hepatitis from an infected mother during childbirth.

You may have hepatitis B (and be spreading the disease) and not know it; sometimes a person with hepatitis B infection has no symptoms at all. Only a blood test can tell for sure. If you have symptoms –

  • Your eyes or skin may turn yellow

  • You may lose your appetite

  • You may have nausea, vomiting, fever, stomach or joint pain

  • You may feel extremely tired and not be able to work for weeks or months

There are medications available to treat long-lasting hepatitis B infection. These work for some people, but there is no cure for hepatitis B when you first get it. That is why prevention is so important. Hepatitis B vaccine is the best protection against the hepatitis B virus. Three doses are commonly needed for complete protection.

Reference: Centers for Disease Control 2002

© 2003 California Hepatitis Resource Center