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Hepatitis B Information – Hepatitis Symptoms & Treatment

Dr. Sabrina Kendrick, Director of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, talks about Hepatitis B

  • What is Hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It results from infection with the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B can be either “acute” or “chronic.”

    Acute hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis B virus. Acute infection can — but does not always — lead to chronic infection.

    Chronic hepatitis B virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the hepatitis B virus remains in a person’s body.

  • What are the statistics for Hepatitis B?

    In 2006, there were an estimated 46,000 new hepatitis B virus infections in the United States. However, the official number of reported hepatitis B cases is much lower. Many people don’t know they are infected or may not have symptoms and therefore never seek the attention of medical or public health officials.

  • How common is chronic hepatitis B in the United States?

    In the United States, an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million persons have chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

  • How is Hepatitis B transmitted?

    Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected. People can become infected with the virus during activities such as:

    • Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth)
    • Sex with an infected partner
    • Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
    • Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
    • Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
    • Exposure to blood from needlesticks or other sharp instruments.
  • What are the risk factors for transmission of Hepatitis B?

    Although anyone can get hepatitis B, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:

    • Have sex with an infected person
    • Have multiple sex partners
    • Have a sexually transmitted disease
    • Are men who have sexual contact with other men
    • Inject drugs or share needles, syringes, or other drug equipment
    • Live with a person who has chronic hepatitis B
    • Are infants born to infected mothers
    • Are exposed to blood on the job
    • Are hemodialysis patients
    • Travel to countries with moderate to high rates of hepatitis B
  • How do you prevent transmission of Hepatitis B?

    The best way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting the hepatitis B vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective and is usually given as 3-4 shots over a 6-month period.

  • What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?

    Symptoms of acute hepatitis B, if they appear, can include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal pain
    • Dark urine
    • Clay-colored bowel movements
    • Joint pain
    • Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or the eyes)
  • What is the test for Hepatitis B?

    There are many different blood tests available to diagnose hepatitis B. They can be ordered as an individual test or as a series of tests. getSTDtested provides the following test:

    Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) is a protein on the surface of the hepatitis B virus. It can be detected in the blood during acute or chronic hepatitis B virus infection. The body normally produces antibodies to HBsAg as part of the normal immune response to infection.

    A positive test means:

    A person has an acute or chronic hepatitis B virus infection and can pass the virus to others

    A negative test means:

    A person does not have the hepatitis B virus in his or her blood

  • What is the Window Period for Hepatitis B?

    On average, symptoms appear 90 days (or 3 months) after exposure, but they can appear any time between 6 weeks and 6 months after exposure.

  • Is there a vaccine or treatment for Hepatitis B?

    Yes, there is a vaccine.

    The hepatitis B vaccine series is a sequence of shots that stimulate a person’s natural immune system to protect against HBV. After the vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies that protect a person against the virus. An antibody is a substance found in the blood that is produced in response to a virus invading the body. These antibodies are then stored in the body and will fight off the infection if a person is exposed to the hepatitis B virus in the future.

  • Who should get vaccinated against hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for:

    • All infants, starting with the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth
    • All children & adolescents younger than 19 years of age old who have not been vaccinated
    • People whose sex partners have hepatitis B
    • Sexually active persons not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship
    • Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
    • Men who have sexual contact with other men
    • People who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
    • People with close household contact with someone infected with hepatitis B
    • Healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids on the job
    • People with end-stage renal disease, including predialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
    • Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
    • Travelers to regions with moderate or high rates of hepatitis B
    • People with chronic liver disease
    • People with HIV infection
    • Anyone who wishes to be protected from hepatitis B virus infection

    In order to reach individuals at risk for hepatitis B, vaccination is also recommended for anyone in or seeking treatment from the following:

    • Sexually transmitted disease treatment facilities
    • HIV testing and treatment facilities
    • Facilities providing drug-abuse treatment and prevention services
    • Healthcare settings targeting services to injection drug users
    • Healthcare settings targeting services to men who have sex with men
    • Chronic hemodialysis facilities and end-stage renal disease programs
    • Correctional facilities
    • Institutions & nonresidential day care facilities for the developmentally disabled

Symptoms of Hepatitis B & Hepatitis B Treatment

Dr. Sabrina Kendrick, Director of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, talks about the symptoms, transmission, testing and treatment of the Hepatitis B virus.

Real Help on Hepatitis B; Sabrina Kendrick, M.D.; Brought to you by getSTDtested.com. Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver and causes inflammation of this organ and it can be sexually transmitted as well as transmitted through blood products. Hepatitis B is transmitted through sex and it can be transmitted through sharing needles or through blood transfusions. Persons who have Hepatitis B can present with fever, nausea, vomiting, sometimes diarrhea, abdominal pain, joint aches, and just overall generalized fatigue. The test for Hepatitis B involves a blood specimen that is sent to the lab. For most patients who acquire Hepatitis B, the body develops an immune response that clears the virus and the infection is over and they are considered immune. But then for a small percentage of patients that go on to develop chronic Hepatitis, those persons are eligible for combination antiretrovirals that can eventually clear the virus over time. For chronic untreated Hepatitis B, these patients can go on to develop liver cancer. To prevent transmission of Hepatitis B more commonly for those cases that are sexually transmitted, you should use protection. For those cases that are transmitted by blood products, I would say to not share your needles.

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