Be Safe.

Hepatitis B or Hep B

{Hep-ah-tigh-tus Bee}


Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver caused by a virus. It’s significantly more infectious than HIV and can be transmitted sexually. It’s not friendly and if it becomes chronic can cause liver damage including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). If severe enough, it can cause death.

How do I get it?

Hepatitis B is passed along through direct contact with body fluids belonging to a person with the virus. The virus is found in the following:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Saliva (although this is rare)

 

Infections can occur if any body fluids containing blood are in direct contact with mucous membranes, or openings in the skin (fresh cuts).

How it’s NOT spread

You will not get/pass on Hepatitis B from the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Touching or shaking hands
  • Swimming pools
  • Bed sheets or towels
  • Forks, spoons, cups or food
  • Insects or animals
  • Using toilet seats or water fountains
  • Hugs or kisses

How do I avoid it?

First and foremost, get vaccinated!

  • Do not share needles. Don’t have unprotected sex with a person who has the virus either. Sharing personal items such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers or earrings with an infected person is also risky.
  • Reduce the number of sex partners you have, and engage in lower risk forms of sexual contact or sexual simulation such as mutual masturbation or sensual massage, oral sex, or sex with a condom.
  • Don’t share sex toys, clean between use, and cover with a new condom before each use.

Symptoms

Symptoms aren’t always apparent, and around half the people infected don’t show any symptoms at all. When they do show, symptoms for hepatitis B include the following:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Pale poops
  • Joint pain
  • Pain in the stomach region
  • There are several types of hepatitis and symptoms often overlap. Because of this, a blood test is needed to tell if a person has Hepatitis B.

Is it curable?

Sort of. About 90% of adults who get hep B clear the infection with their own immune systems and develop a lifelong immunity to it. Then there are the other 10% of people. If unable to clear the virus, they become chronic carriers and stay infected and infectious for life.

Something to keep in mind

A person is much more likely to develop chronic hepatitis if they are in poor health, have a weak immune system or are very young at the time of infection. 1 in 10 adults develop chronic hepatitis while 9 in 10 babies infected with the virus become chronic carriers.

Treatment

The best way to determine treatment for hepatitis B is to work with your health care provider and figure out what’s best for you. People with chronic hep B can live amazing, full lives. It’s just a matter of taking good care of oneself and getting regular checkups.

Pregnancy/Being a Mom

It is possible to pass on hepatitis B to a child during childbirth; however, the risk is relatively low when it comes to breastfeeding. Just avoid it if your nipples are cracked and bleeding. Breastfeeding can start up again when the nipples are healed.

Protection at Birth

Your physician can arrange for your baby to receive protection at birth, which may include an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin and the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. The baby will still require two more doses of vaccine to have lasting protection.

A blood test for the baby should be administered no sooner than a month after completing the vaccine series. This is done to see if the baby has developed protection against the virus.

When can I have sex again?

So long as you are properly wearing a condom, sex should be ok. That said, it’s best to wait until your tests come back negative.

Other resources

What to expect when
getting tested

Get comfortable with the process.

  • What to bring
    to your
    appointment
  • What will
    you be
    asked?
  • What the
    tests
    involve

What to bring
to your
appointment

Your name and contact details and questions about your sexual history.

  • A form of ID (driver's license, passport)
  • Your health care card

What will
you be
asked?

Questions about your recent sexual history.

When you last had sex, whether it was unprotected, what kind of symptoms you have...

What the
tests
involve

A few different potential tests involve procedures that aren’t a huge deal.

Pelvic exams, swab tests, blood tests and or urine tests

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