is hepatitis B?
B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks
the liver. The virus, which is called hepatitis B virus
(HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring)
of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.
The disease is fairly common; almost 600 cases are reported
in Wisconsin each year.
Who is at risk for hepatitis B?
do you get hepatitis B?
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 B from an infected mother
during childbirth. Hepatitis B is not spread through food
or water or by casual contact.
does the term "hepatitis B carrier" mean?
B carriers are people who are have chronic (long-term)
infection with HBV and never recover fully from the infection;
they carry the virus and can infect others for the rest
of their lives. In the United States, about one million
people carry HBV.
do you know if you have hepatitis B?
a blood test can tell for sure. You may have hepatitis
B (and be spreading the disease) and not know it; sometimes
a person with HBV infection has no symptoms at all.
are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
do symptoms appear?
usually appear 2-3 months after exposure (range: 1 ½-
there a cure for hepatitis B?
are medications available to treat long-lasting (chronic)
HBV-infection. These work for some people, but there is
no cure for hepatitis B. That is why prevention is so
important. Hepatitis B vaccine is the best protection
can I prevent hepatitis B?
B vaccine is available for all age groups to prevent hepatitis
B virus infection. The vaccine is safe, effective, and
your best protection.
you are having sex, but not with one steady partner, use
latex condoms correctly every time you have sex. The efficacy
of latex condoms in preventing infection with HBV is unknown,
but their proper use may reduce transmission.
share anything that might have blood on it, such as a
razor or toothbrush.
you inject drugs, don't share syringes, cookers, cottons,
water, or rinse cups.
about the health risks if you are planning to get a tattoo
or body piercing. You can get infected if the artist or
piercer doesn't sterilize needles and equipment, use disposable
gloves, and wash hands properly.
standard precautions. If you are a health-care worker,
follow standard precautions and handle needles and sharps
If you are pregnant, should you worry about
you have HBV in your blood, you can give hepatitis B to
your baby. Babies who get HBV at birth may have the virus
for the rest of their lives, can spread the disease, and
can get cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
All pregnant women should be tested for HBV early in their
pregnancy. If the blood test is positive, the baby should
receive vaccine along with another shot, hepatitis B immune
globulin (called HBIG), at birth. The second dose of vaccine
should be given at 1-2 months of age and the third dose
at 6 months of age.
should get vaccinated?
babies, at birth, especially infants of infected mothers
children 0-18 years of age who have not been vaccinated
whose jobs expose them to human blood
with a sex partner who has hepatitis B
who have sex with men
who has had a sexually transmitted disease
who has sex with more than one partner
contacts of a person with hepatitis B
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Division of Viral
Wisconsin Division of Public Health - Bureau of Communicable
you don't find the information you are looking for on this
Wisconsin HIV, STD, and Hepatitis C Information & Referral
hotline can provide information about STDs.
Please call us toll free in Wisconsin
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