You can keep from getting HBV by getting the HBV vaccine. All newborns and children younger than 18 who have not been vaccinated need the HBV vaccine. Adults at high risk of HBV also need the vaccine. The vaccine is safe and can protect you for life. Ask your doctor if you need the HBV vaccine. You also can take these steps to prevent the spread of HBV:
Use a condom during sex.
Do not share drug needles.
Wear gloves if you need to touch somebody else's blood.
Don't share personal items like toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers.
Make sure tattoos or body piercings you get are done with sterile tools.
Hepatitis (HEP-uh-TEYE-tuhss) B is a liver disease. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus, or HBV. Hepatitis that does not get better can cause scarring of the liver, liver cancer, or even death. People can get HBV through contact with infected blood or body fluids. You can get HBV by having sex or sharing needles with an infected person or by being born to a mother with HBV. HBV infection is much more likely to become a life-long infection in people who get it at birth or in early childhood.
About 1 in 10 Asian-Americans is affected by HBV. Rates of HBV infection are especially high among immigrants from Laos, Vietnam, and China. Within this high-risk group, HBV is spread mainly from mother to baby during pregnancy. Babies born with HBV are likely to have it their whole lives. They can spread the disease and can get liver damage or cancer. In fact, the risk of liver cancer is 100 times higher in people with HBV infection. Asian-Americans have the highest rates of liver cancer in the United States.
If you get HBV, you may feel like you have the flu. But most people with HBV have no symptoms. So, you can have HBV (and be spreading the virus) and not know it. Only a blood test can tell for sure if you have HBV. If you have HBV in your blood, you can give hepatitis B to your baby. Ask your doctor to be tested for HBV early in your pregnancy.
Hepatitis B has no cure. But treatment for long-lasting hepatitis B can slow or stop the virus from harming the liver. If hepatitis B causes liver failure, a liver transplant may be needed. This involves replacing the failed liver with a healthy one from a donor.
Viral Hepatitis Fact Sheet - This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about viral hepatitis and how the virus spreads. It also has information on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of hepatitis.
Viral Hepatitis - This publication explains the different types of hepatitis and how they are spread. You can also read the answers to some frequently asked questions and get information on how common hepatitis is.
What I Need to Know About Hepatitis B - Hepatitis B is common in Asian-American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian populations. This easy-to-read publication provides an introduction to the disease’s risk factors, symptoms, and treatments.