Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis B (HBV) - Hep B
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a very serious form of hepatitis and is spread predominantly by coming into contact with the body fluids of an infected person (blood, semen, vaginal secretions, saliva, breast milk).
This can occur during sex or by some other means such as sharing needles for drug use or poor hygiene practices at acupuncturists, tattoo or body / ear-piercing establishments.
There is also strong evidence the virus may be spread among families from adults to children through casual contact.
Also at risk from hepatitis B are those people whose work or lifestyle brings them into contact with people who are infected.
Additionally, mothers may pass on the infection to their babies during or after birth. This is particularly serious for the infant since the majority who do become infected will go on to develop chronic hepatitis, especially those who contract HBV before they are 12 months old.
Hepatitis B Symptoms
Symptoms of hepatitis B are usually slow to develop but may include any or all of the following:
- up to 30% of those with hepatitis B will show no symptoms
- flu-like symptoms
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
- joint pain
- less commonly, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eye)
Hepatitis B Treatment
The most effective treatment against hepatitis B is to be vaccinated. This is recommended for those whose occupations or lifestyle puts them at risk, or for medical reasons.
The chronic form of hepatitis B may be treated with Adefovir dipivoxil, alpha interferon and/or lamivudine.
These drugs should not be used by women who are pregnant or who think they may be pregnant.