Hepatitis B is the world’s most common liver infection
Hep B is a serious and potentially deadly liver infection, but treatments are available for some patients. It is caused by becoming infected with the hep B virus (HBV). It can cause serious liver problems like inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
In the US, chronic (long-term) hep B affects many people
- Approximately 257 million people are infected worldwide
- In 2015 alone, an estimated 887,000 people died due to complications from hep B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer
People born in areas shaded in red have a higher risk* of hep B infection
- Most foreign-born people in the US with chronic hepatitis B are from high-risk regions, including Asia and the Pacific Islands
- Hep B is most common in the Western Pacific region and Africa. Over 6% of the adults in these areas are infected
- Over 3% of the population in the Eastern Mediterranean Region is infected with hepatitis B
- In Southeast Asia, approximately 2% of the general population has hepatitis B
DON’T WAIT If you or your parents were born in a higher risk area, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting tested for hep B.
In the US, chronic hep B most commonly affects people from Asia, the Pacific Islands, and parts of Africa
Chronic Hep B
What happens if I get hep B?
When someone is first infected, it is called an ACUTE infection.
A person's body may fight off the infection.
However, if a person has had hepatitis B for more than 6 months, it’s called CHRONIC hepatitis B.
Hep B is sometimes called a “SILENT KILLER” because even if you don’t feel sick, the virus may be active and causing liver damage. However, chronic hep B can be managed.
Most people with chronic hep B have no symptoms and feel healthy. However:
- They can still infect others
- They may already have liver damage
It is important to talk to your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
(yellowish eyes & skin)
Effects on the Liver
The liver is the largest organ inside the body
- Processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients
- Fights off infection
- Removes harmful chemicals from your blood
- Makes substances that help digest food
Chronic hepatitis B can be slowly causing damage without your knowledge and may lead to:
How the Virus Is Spread
How do you get hep B? The ONLY way to get the hepatitis B virus is from coming into contact with infected blood or bodily fluid.
- If you were born in a high-risk area, one of the most common ways to get hep B is if your mother had hep B when you were born
- By exchanging bodily fluids during sex
- By sharing items such as razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers
- From infected blood after an injury, bite, or scratch
- By sharing unsterilized needles (including tattoo or body piercing tools)
- Drinking alcohol
- Food, water, or air
- Casual contact (sneezing, touching doorknobs, toilet seats, etc.)
- Sharing cups and utensils