Hepatitis B Fact Sheet

Signs, Symptoms and Facts About Hepatitis B

Signs and Symptoms

About 30% of persons have no signs or symptoms and signs and symptoms are less common in children than adults. Signs and symptoms include:
  • jaundice
  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • joint pain

Who's at Risk?

  • Persons with multiple sex partners or a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Sexual contacts of infected persons
  • Injection drug users
  • Household contacts of chronically infected persons.
  • Infants born to infected mothers.
  • Infants/children of immigrants from areas with high rates of HBV infection.
  • Health care and public safety workers
  • Hemodialysis patients

How is Hepatitis B Spread from Person to Person?

Hepatitis B spreads from person to person by:
  • blood or body fluids from an infected person entering the body of a person who is not immune to hepatitis b;
  • having sex with an infected person without using a condom
  • sharing needles or "works" when "shooting" drugs
  • through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job
  • or from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

How Can the Spread of Hepatitis B be Prevented?

  • getting the hepatitis b vaccine
  • using latex condoms correctly and every time you have sex
  • do not shoot drugs; if you shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program; if you can't stop, never share needles, syringes, water, or "works", and get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B
  • do not share personal care items that might have blood on them (razors, toothbrushes)
  • if you are a health care or public safety worker, get vaccinated against hepatitis B, and always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps.

How is Hepatitis B Treated

  • Hepatitis B infected persons should be evaluated by their doctor for liver disease and offered medication regimens specifically developed for the treatment of Hepatitis B.
    Source: Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001.

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