What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can be prevented with vaccination. Many people will clear Hepatitis B after getting it. For some, Hepatitis B can become chronic, which means you have it your whole life. Hepatitis B can cause serious damage to the liver over time. Luckily, there are treatments that can help protect your liver.
How do you catch Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is passed through sexual fluids and blood. If you haven’t been vaccinated, you can catch Hepatitis B by having oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone who has it. Small amounts of blood on a shared toothbrush, razor, or non-sterile needle (used for tattooing, body piercing, or injecting drugs) can pass it too. Hepatitis B is also commonly passed on during birth, from the infected pregnant person to their baby. Remember, you don’t get Hepatitis B by touching, hugging, kissing, or sharing food with someone who has it.
Always use a condom and never share needles
Most young people in Australia have been vaccinated for Hepatitis B, which means you’re protected from getting the infection. If you’re not sure if you’ve been vaccinated, talk to your doctor about it. You can get the vaccine now if you haven’t had it before.
How can I prevent Hepatitis B?
- Get vaccinated for Hepatitis B.
- Use a condom when having oral, vaginal, or anal sex and on shared sex toys.
- Don’t share razors or toothbrushes.
- Use sterile needs for injecting drug use. You can find a list of free Needle and Syringe Programs across NSW here.
- Regular STI testing – every 6-12 months – is also important and part of a healthy and confident sex life.
Testing and treatment for Hepatitis B
A blood test is needed to check if you have Hepatitis B. Your doctor will talk about what a positive result might mean for you. This is because most people will clear the infection without treatment over time, but some people can develop chronic health conditions that need care and support. Treatments for chronic Hepatitis B help you stay healthy long term.
If you find out you have Hepatitis B it’s important to let anyone know who may have been exposed so they can get tested themselves. Your doctor or nurse can help you work out who needs to be contacted.