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Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Your Health Resources

What Is Hepatitis B?

July 04, 2020

Hepatitis B is one of several viruses which may cause hepatitis (liver disease), and may result in a particularly severe form of hepatitis that leads to liver cancer or death

Hepatitis B is spread in the same way as AIDS:

  • Intimate or sexual contact with an infected person
  • Accidental exposure to traces of blood or blood-contaminated fluids (surgical, medical, dental procedures)
  • Sharing of unsterilized syringes/needles (including tattooing, body piercing, acupuncture or cuts with razors and similar objects contaminated by blood)

Where Is It?

Hepatitis B is widespread in many developing countries, especially in Africa, southeast Asia, the Middle East (except Israel), south and western Pacific Islands, the interior Amazon Basin and certain parts of the Caribbean.

Prevention Tips

  • Avoid casual sexual contact
  • Use latex condoms correctly with a vaginal spermicidal jelly for every sexual contact
  • Never use needles and syringes used by other people
  • Never use another person's razor, shaver or toothbrush
  • Don't get tattoos or have any part of your body pierced

Available Immunizations

Health Tip: If you find yourself in a non-emergency situation requiring blood transfusion, request to be flown home if blood cannot be adequately screened first.

Travelers spending more than six months in areas of the world where Hepatitis B is prevalent should consider vaccination.

Travelers spending less than six months, who may be exposed to blood, such as health care workers, or have sexual contact with local residents, should also consider vaccination. 

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