Hepatitis B - Transmission

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If known, describe how you or someone you know was exposed to and infected with hepatitis B.

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How is the hepatitis B virus spread (transmitted)?

Hepatitis B is spread mainly by exposure to infected blood or body secretions. In infected individuals, the virus can be found in the blood, semen, vaginal discharge, breast milk, and saliva. Hepatitis B is not spread through food, water, or by casual contact.

In the United States, sexual contact is the most common means of transmission, followed by using contaminated needles for injecting illicit drugs, tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture. Additionally, hepatitis B can be transmitted through sharing toothbrushes and razors contaminated with infected fluids or blood.

Hepatitis B also may be spread from infected mothers to their babies at birth (so-called 'vertical' transmission). This is the most prevalent means of transmission in regions of the world where hepatitis B rates are high. The rate of transmission of hepatitis B from mother to newborn is very high, and almost all infected infants will develop chronic hepatitis B. Fortunately, transmission can be significantly reduced through immunoprophylaxis (see below).

Rarely, hepatitis B can be transmitted through transfused blood products, donated livers and other organs. However, blood and organ donors are routinely screened for hepatitis which typically prevents this type of transmission.

Return to Hepatitis B (HBV, Hep B)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Manjusha, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 08

I was infected with hepatitis B when I got a needle prick from an infected patient.

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Comment from: braveheart, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 14

I got to know that I'm suffering from Hepatitis B (chronic) in carrier form, during my pregnancy test. I relate it to the accident and dental surgeries I had in my childhood. My husband and child both are negative and I am also only carrier of it.

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