It is important to understand the risk factors of chronic hep B
Hepatitis B risk factors include:
- Being born to mothers infected with hep B
- Being born or traveling in countries where hep B is common
- Exposure to blood on the job, such as health care workers
- Having sexual partners with hep B
- Coming into contact with infected bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions)
- Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
- Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
- Being born in the US, not vaccinated as an infant, and having parents born in high-risk countries
- Living or lived with a partner who has chronic hep B
- Having had a tattoo or body piercing with unsterilized tools
In the US, as many as 1.4 million people with chronic hepatitis B are undiagnosed
A simple blood test, which is covered by most health insurance plans, will tell if you have chronic hep B:
Hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs)
These are made by your immune system to fight the hep B virus.
If you have these, you are protected from hep B.
Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)
If found in your blood, you are infected with hep B.
If these are in your body for more than 6 months, you have chronic hep B.
The test may be repeated over a 6-month period for accurate diagnosis.
What do the hep B test results mean?
The results of your test will help tell your doctor if you have hepatitis B or if you are currently protected from it. If you find out you have chronic hep B, talk to your doctor to see if treatment is right for you.
If you do not have hepatitis B, and have not been vaccinated, talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis B vaccine
The hep B vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent hep B infection.
The hep B vaccine has been available since 1982.
The vaccine is available as either: 2 shots, given a month apart OR 3 shots, the first two given a month apart and the 3rd shot given 4 months later.
Talk to your doctor about which vaccine is best for you.
Who should be vaccinated?
- All unvaccinated pregnant women at risk for infection
- All newborns at birth, especially if the mother has hep B
- Children and adolescents who have not been vaccinated
- Anyone who lives with someone who has hep B
- Anyone whose sexual partner has hep B
- People with chronic liver disease, end-stage renal disease, or HIV infection
- Healthcare and public safety workers exposed to blood
- Travelers to any of the countries in red in the map below