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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can cause liver disease. About half of people with hepatitis B do not experience any symptoms. There is no cure, but a vaccine is available to protect against infection.

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Click on a question below to learn more about hepatitis B.

How do you get hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is transmitted through semen (cum), vaginal fluids, blood, and urine during sex – vaginal, anal or oral – or through needles, razors, or toothbrushes with blood on them.

Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it and is not treated.

When used consistently and correctly, condoms protect against hepatitis B and many other STDs.

What is the hepatitis B vaccine?

A vaccine to protect against infection is available for hepatitis B. It requires a series of three shots provided by a healthcare provider over several months. You need all three shots for it to be effective.

Most babies now get the hepatitis B vaccine from their healthcare provider as a regular part of their checkups.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

About half of adults with hepatitis B do not experience any symptoms. If people do have symptoms, they may go unnoticed or look like other common illnesses, like the flu. Hepatitis B symptoms typically last for a few weeks, but can sometimes last for months.

If symptoms do appear, they may include: stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, joint pain, fever, dark-colored urine, or hives. Because hepatitis B affects the liver, it may also cause jaundice - when the eyes and skin yellow.

What's involved in hepatitis B testing?

Hepatitis B is tested with a blood sample. It may take up to two months after infection before a positive result.

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How do you treat hepatitis B?

If you have chronic hepatitis B, there are prescription medications that can help keep your liver healthy. Check with a healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements to make sure they won’t further hurt your liver.

The information on this page is adapted from the CDC and Planned Parenthood.

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