Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that can infect people of all ages. Up to 2.2 million individuals in the US have long-term or “chronic” infection, which can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. Symptoms of a new hepatitis B infection may include loss of appetite, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and joint pain. Many individuals will have no symptoms at the time they become infected and will only know their infection has become chronic decades later when the virus has done serious damage to their liver.
Since there is no way to tell from looking at someone whether they are infected, the best protection for those at risk of coming into contact with HBV is screening and vaccination according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. The most common ways HBV can be spread include sexual contact, needle sharing, and from an infected mother to her newborn during childbirth. HBV can be transmitted when an individual comes into contact with the blood, semen, or other body fluid of an infected person.
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for healthcare professionals and public safety workers who are at risk for exposure to blood or body fluids.
View the NFID Hepatitis B Awareness Toolkit for resources about the importance of hepatitis B disease prevention.