Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects nearly 73,000 new individuals each year. Approximately 1,250,000 people in the United States are carriers of this disease.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
Approximately 30% of infected people will show no symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Can having hepatitis B lead to other problems?
There is no cure , which means that once you contract it, it is a life-long infection. Hepatitis B may lead to serious liver disease. Approximately 5,000 people die each year due to liver failure and liver cancer.
How is hepatitis B transmitted?
Hepatitis B is transmitted by sexual activity. It may also be spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth. There are primarily four different ways that hepatitis B may be transmitted:
- Sexual activity which includes anal or vaginal intercourse
- Mother to baby during birth
- Contact with infected blood
- I.V. drug use
How is hepatitis B diagnosed?
Hepatitis B may be diagnosed by your healthcare provider through a blood test.
What is the treatment for hepatitis B?
Currently there is no cure. Medications are available to help slow the virus and prevent liver damage.
Can hepatitis B be prevented?
There are several ways to prevent hepatitis B. The first is to refrain from sexual contact of any kind. The second is to be in a long-term monogamous relationship such as marriage. The third is to avoid use of I.V. drugs.
There is a vaccination; subsequently, one of the simplest ways to avoid this disease is to get vaccinated.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov
Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Women. Faro, Sebastian, Ch.14.