Hepatitis B is an infectious virus that can cause serious disease of the liver. Hep B is found in blood as well as semen, vaginal fluid and saliva.
How is it passed on?
- Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
- Sharing personal items e.g. toothbrushes, razors, sex toys
- Sharing needles or injecting equipment
- Non-sterile (unclean) tattooing or piercing equipment
- Contact sports where there are cuts or grazes
- Pregnancy/childbirth – infected mother to baby
Often none, but symptoms within 3 months may include:
- feeling like throwing up (nausea)
- flu-like symptoms (fever, extreme tiredness, stomach pain)
- urine or faeces (poo) can be a strange colour
- skin and eyeballs can look yellow (jaundice)
- not feeling very hungry
How is it tested?
- Blood test
There is a combined Hep A / Hep B vaccination. Talk to your GP or sexual health clinic for more information.
How is it treated?
- If you have been exposed to Hep B, an injection from your doctor may help to prevent infection.
- Most people will recover without treatment – just with rest, plenty of fluids and no drugs or alcohol.
- A very small number of people will continue to have the infection and can have serious health problems.
How can I prevent getting it?
- Get vaccinated against Hep B.
- Use a condom during vaginal, anal or oral sex and when sharing sex toys.
- Never share needles, injecting equipment or personal items.
- Only have tattooing and piercing done by licenced, trained professionals.