Getting vaccinated can protect you against HBV.
Causes and Risk Factors of Hepatitis B
- Through sex with a partner who has the virus
- By sharing needles, syringes, or other drug equipment with someone who has the virus
- During birth, when an infected mother passes the virus to her baby
- By sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, or other items with an infected person
- Through accidental needle stick injuries that occur from an infected person
- Making direct contact with an infected person's blood or open sores
- Getting a tattoo or piercing from a contaminated needle
Some people are more at risk for infection than others. The CDC recommends hepatitis B testing for:
- People who were born in countries with high rates of hepatitis B
- People who were born in the United States, but weren't vaccinated as infants, to parents who were from countries with high rates of hepatitis B
- Men who have sex with men
- People who work in a job where they're exposed to blood (such as healthcare workers)
- People who inject drugs
- People who have HIV
- People who live with people who have hepatitis B
- People who are sexually active with someone who has hepatitis B
- Pregnant women
- Infants who are born to mothers with hepatitis B
- People with certain health conditions, such as hepatitis C or end-stage renal disease
How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed?
If you suspect that you have hepatitis B or are showing symptoms of the infection, talk to your doctor about being tested.
Prognosis of Hepatitis B
The risk that an acute hepatitis B infection will become chronic (and therefore, cause serious complications) decreases as a person gets older. About 90 percent of infants who get hepatitis B will develop a chronic infection, according to the CDC; the virus will become chronic in about 25 to 50 percent of children ages 1 to 5. Of the people who get hepatitis B as a child, about 25 percent may die from cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Duration of Hepatitis B
Complications of Hepatitis B
Asian Americans and Hepatitis B
Resources We Love
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC provides information for both medical providers and the public about hepatitis B, as well as statistics on national trends in infection rates.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
A part of the National Institutes of Health, the NIDDK conducts research about liver disease (among other conditions) and keeps the public informed about hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B Foundation
This nonprofit advocacy group works to improve quality of life for people with Hepatitis B. On their site, you'll find news on the latest research, links to online support groups, and more.
Additional reporting by Joseph Bennington-Castro.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
- Hepatitis B Questions and Answers for the Public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 28, 2020.
- What Is Viral Hepatitis? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 28, 2020.
- Hepatitis B: Symptoms and Causes. Mayo Clinic. September 4, 2020.
- Hepatitis B. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. June 2020.
- Hepatitis B Questions and Answers for Health Professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 28, 2020.
- Hepatitis B: Diagnosis and Treatment. Mayo Clinic. September 4, 2020.
- Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report 2018 — Hepatitis B. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 27, 2020.
- What Is Hepatitis B? Stanford Medicine Liver Center.
- Hepatitis and Asian Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. December 31, 2020.
- Peginterferon Alfa-2a Infection. MedlinePlus. June 15, 2016.
- Hepatitis D. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. May 2017.
- What Is Viral Hepatitis? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. May 2017.