Hepatitis B (Hep B) is a virus that attacks the liver and can be sexually transmitted. Hep B can lead to other diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
How do you get/spread it?
Hepatitis B can be spread through blood and body fluids such as anal, vaginal or oral sex with an infected partner. It can also be spread from an infected mother to her child during birth.
It can also be spread through blood-to-blood contact such as sharing needles or drug preparation equipment or by sharing personal items like razors or toothbrushes that have come into contact with infected blood.
How can you tell if you have it?
You can have Hepatitis B and have no signs and symptoms, or only mild symptoms. You can still pass the virus on without knowing it.
If you do have symptoms, you might notice:
- Pain in your abdomen.
- Dark coloured urine.
- Light-coloured stool or bowel movements.
- Yellowing of the skin.
- Loss of appetite.
- Persistent flu-like feelings that do not go away.
How do you get tested?
Getting tested for Hepatitis B means having a blood test done to see if you have ever been in contact with the virus.
Where do I get tested?
How is it treated?
Most people will recover within a few months of infection by the Hep B virus, as their bodies develop immunity and fight off the infection. These people are no longer contagious, and usually will not experience any long-term effects from the infection.
For some people Hepatitis B can not be cured and treatment is required. Since their bodies are unable to fight off the virus they will develop chronic hepatitis and can transmit the infection to others.
How do I not get Hepatitis B?
There is a vaccine available for Hepatitis B. It is available to high-risk persons through the Sexual Health Clinic or through the Vaccine Preventable Disease program. Contact the Sexual Health Clinic for more information.
Another great way to protect yourself is by choosing not to have sex.
If you choose to have sex, you should use a condom every time, even if you on using birth control, to lower your chance of getting Hepatitis B, a Blood-Borne Infection or other STIs. Free condoms are available through the health unit.
You can avoid infection by never sharing needles or drug preparation equipment. The health unit Needle Exchange Program can help you access safe and clean needles and drug preparation equipment.