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Hepatitis Resource Center

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.



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