Did You Know? HBV Can Be Transmitted Sexually

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Approximately half of HBV infections are transmitted sexually.

HBV is linked to chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.  HBV is a highly transmissible virus and one of the most common disease globally. The sexual contact with someone who is infected is one of the most common ways to become infected.  Recent data shows that approximately half of HBV infections are transmitted sexually. HBV is linked to chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

First seen on: (https://www.hepbnet.org/about.asp)

half of all HBV infections are transmitted sexually

What is hepatitis B?

  • -Hepatitis B is a virus (HBV) that infects the liver and can cause liver inflammation called “hepatitis
  • -It can cause both a self-limiting (acute) and a life-long (chronic) illness
  • -HBV infection lasting more than 6 months is considered chronic
  • -Vaccination prevents hepatitis B infection
  • -Acute infection in children
  • -Is generally without any symptoms (silent) and therefore is rarely diagnosed
  • -Most children (>90%) who are exposed will go on to develop chronic infection
  • -Acute infection in adults
  • -Many adults will have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dark-colored urine, jaundice (eyes and skin turn yellow), itching, fatigue, and joint and muscle pain
  • -Most adults (>90%) recover within 6 months from the acute illness and do not develop the chronic infection
  • -Chronic hepatitis B infection
  • -More than a million Americans are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus
  • -Can cause liver damage and scarring
  • -Over many years untreated hepatitis B may lead to a completely scarred liver (cirrhosis) and -liver failure requiring liver transplantation
  • -Hepatitis B can also lead to cancer of the liver, usually in persons with cirrhosis
  • -Cirrhosis and liver cancer from hepatitis B lead to about 5,000 deaths per year in the United States

How is hepatitis B spread?

  • -Hepatitis B virus is spread by coming into contact with blood, semen, and vaginal secretions
  • -It can spread from the mother to her child during birth
  • -Common causes of transmission include: unprotected sexual contact, sharing needles among injection drug users, re-use of contaminated needles and syringes
  • -Sharing of razor blades or toothbrushes can also transmit hepatitis B
  • -Blood transfusion is rarely a risk factor for transmission in the USA and Canada since it is routinely screened for hepatitis B
  • -It is NOT spread through water, food, hugging, kissing, and casual contact such as in schools or the workplace

Who is at risk of getting hepatitis B?

  • -Anyone can get hepatitis B by coming into contact with blood or body fluids from someone who is infected with hepatitis B
  • -The following people are at greatest risk. 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 and body fluids on the job
  • -Are hemodialysis patient
  • -Stay for a prolonged period of time in areas of the world with moderate to high rates of hepatitis B 

HBV vaccines can prevent HBV and serious disease including  liver cancer and cirrhosis. The vaccine can possibly provide a lifelong protection as well. This is recommended for all infants at birth and children upto 18 years old.

First seen on: (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-b.html)

Who should get hepatitis B vaccine and when?

Children and adolescents

  • -Babies normally get 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine:
  • -1st Dose: Birth
  • -2nd Dose: 1-2 months of age
  • -3rd Dose: 6-18 months of age

Some babies might get 4 doses, for example, if a combination vaccine containing hepatitis B is used. (This is a single shot containing several vaccines.) The extra dose is not harmful.

  • Anyone through 18 years of age who didn’t get the vaccine when they were younger should also be vaccinated.

Adults

  • -All unvaccinated adults at risk for hepatitis B infection should be vaccinated. This includes:
  • -sex partners of people infected with hepatitis B,
  • -men who have sex with men,
  • -people who inject street drugs,
  • -people with more than one sex partner,
  • -people with chronic liver or kidney disease,
  • -people under 60 years of age with diabetes,
  • -people with jobs that expose them to human blood or other body fluids,
  • -household contacts of people infected with hepatitis B,
  • -residents and staff in institutions for the developmentally disabled,
  • -kidney dialysis patients,
  • -people who travel to countries where hepatitis B is common,
  • -people with HIV infection.
  • -Other people may be encouraged by their doctor to get hepatitis B vaccine; for example, adults 60 and older with diabetes. Anyone else who wants to be protected from hepatitis B infection may get the vaccine.
  • -Pregnant women who are at risk for one of the reasons stated above should be vaccinated. Other pregnant women who want protection may be vaccinated.

Adults getting hepatitis B vaccine should get 3 doses — with the second dose given 4 weeks after the first and the third dose 5 months after the second. Your doctor can tell you about other dosing schedules that might be used in certain circumstances.

Who should not get hepatitis B vaccine?

  • -Anyone with a life-threatening allergy to yeast, or to any other component of the vaccine, should not get hepatitis B vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
  • -Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of hepatitis B vaccine should not get another dose.
  • -Anyone who is moderately or severely ill when a dose of vaccine is scheduled should probably wait until they recover before getting the vaccine.

Your doctor can give you more information about these precautions.

Note: You might be asked to wait 28 days before donating blood after getting hepatitis B vaccine. This is because the screening test could mistake vaccine in the bloodstream (which is not infectious) for hepatitis B infection.

What are the risks from hepatitis B vaccine?

Hepatitis B is a very safe vaccine. Most people do not have any problems with it.

The vaccine contains noninfectious material, and cannot cause hepatitis B infection.

Some mild problems have been reported:

  • -Soreness where the shot was given (up to about 1 person in 4).
  • -Temperature of 99.9°F or higher (up to about 1 person in 15).

Severe problems are extremely rare. Severe allergic reactions are believed to occur about once in 1.1 million doses.

A vaccine, like any medicine, could cause a serious reaction. But the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. More than 100 million people in the United States have been vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine.

What should I look for?

  • -Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes.
  • -Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.

For anyone who is at risk of HBV or anyone who wants to protect themselves from getting the virus, you should talk to a health professional about getting the vaccine. The vaccines are safe and highly effective in preventing HBV infections.  It is always recommended to start as early as possible or regret later.

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