Hepatitis B

Although 90-95 percent of adults with HBV recover completely, the virus can cause severe liver disease and death. Unless they are treated within an hour of birth, 90 percent of the infants born to women with HBV will carry the virus. Pregnant women who may have been exposed to HBV should consider being tested before giving birth so that their babies can be vaccinated at birth or treated if they become ill. Like many other viruses, HBV remains in the body for life.

HBV is the only sexually transmitted infection that is preventable with vaccination. But about 77,000 Americans get HBV every year because they have not been vaccinated. There are now about 75,000 people with sexually acquired HBV in the U.S.

Common Symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Hives
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tenderness in the lower abdomen

Later Symptoms

More abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored stool, yellowing of the skin and white of the eye - jaundice. HBV may show no symptoms during its most contagious phases. If symptoms appear, they appear within four weeks.


In semen, saliva, blood, and urine by:

  • Intimate and sexual contact, from kissing to vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse
  • Use of unclean needles to inject drugs
  • Accidental pricks with contaminated needles in the course of health care.

Hepatitis B is very contagious.


Blood test


None. In most cases the infection clears within 4-8 weeks. Some people, however, remain contagious for the rest of their lives.


Condoms offer some protection against HBV during vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse, but the virus can be passed through kissing and other intimate touching. Children and adults who do not have HBV can get permanent protection with a series of HBV vaccinations.