Know The STI: Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver infection which can be sexually transmitted. it is however preventable through vaccination and safe sex practice.

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B is transmitted when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. For some people, hepatitis B is an acute or short-term illness, but for others, it can become a long-term chronic infection. Risk for chronic infection is related to age at infection. Chronic Hepatitis B can lead to serious health issues, like cirrhosis or liver cancer. The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.

Mode of transmission

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted via blood or sexual contact. This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth.

Types of Hepatitis

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These 5 types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.

Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms may not manifest until 1-6 months after getting infected with the virus. Some signs to look out for include: Jaundice( yellowing of the skin or white of the eyes). Fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, belly pain, and vomitting.


Diagnosis is made with blood tests( there are rapid tests available now), physical examination, the liver would also be checked to determine if it healthy.

It is however advised to get tested and vaccinated as it is preventable.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in a pregnant woman poses a serious risk to her infant at birth. It is associated with high risk complications for the mother and has become a leading cause of foetal death. Transmission to the foetus occurs if the mother has had acute hepatitis B infection during late pregnancy or if the mother ia a chronic carrier.


Cente for disease control and prevention viral hepatitis


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