Hep B Blog

Hepp-B Valentine’s Day: What to do on Valentine’s Day when you have hepatitis B.

Happy Valentine’s Day!! Today is dedicated to celebrating love. Though it can be exciting, anxiety can creep up on this day too. Maybe you’re thinking about confessing your feelings to your crush? Or nervous about planning the best date ever? Maybe you’re timid about the holiday in general because of your hepatitis B status?

If you have chronic hep B, you may think that starting a relationship and initiating sex can be stressful and feel overwhelming. Questions like “What if we break up because I disclosed my status?” or “Can I even start a relationship with someone if I have a chronic disease like hepatitis B?” may be swimming in your mind. Doubt and anxiety may overwhelm your thoughts, but don’t forget that you’re more than your illness. You should not focus on things you cannot change. You are worthy of love and can live out that romantic story you always wanted because you have wonderful things to offer to a future love interest.

If you’re spending time with someone on Valentine’s this year or any day, it’s important that you remember to take precautions if your date leads to an intimate night. If you are living with hep B, properly wearing a latex condom keeps you safe from becoming co-infected with another infectious disease. No one wants a co-infection. It is complicated and potentially dangerous for you and your partner’s health. If your partner does not have hep B, then avoid infection by wearing a condom. Hep B is vaccine preventable, but hepatitis C, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are not. Considering the health and safety of yourself and your sexual partners is paramount. You may not know what they have, and they may not know what you have.

Also, it is important to disclose your status before sex (even if it’s safe sex with a condom). You may jeopardize your partner’s trust (and their health) before the relationship deepens. Disclosing your chronic hep B status can be scary, but talking about it reduces the stigma surrounding the infection and may even prompt your partner to get tested or vaccinated if needed. If your partner is not understanding after you have explained your HBV infection, then you know that person was not meant for you, and not deserving of your love. There are other potential partners out there that will be understanding and loving. Do not let rejection discourage you!

Disclosure should be done calmly and carefully. It is important to do some research before you do disclose your hepatitis B status. Having a thorough understanding of hepatitis B can make it easier for you to explain it to a future partner. The more you know, the less scary and more comfortable it is to dispel fear, so that you can share your status with confidence and integrity.

Whether you think of today as Valentine’s or Single Awareness Day, remember that hep B is only a small part of who you are and should not be a reason for you to give up on loving someone. Remember that you are more than your chronic hep B! It’s only a part of you and does not define your entire life. You have so much to offer to your current or future partner!

Read our previous posts about dating and hepatitis B, advice for navigating the dating world for those with hepatitis B, disclosing your status on Valentine’s, loving safely on this holiday, and tips for disclosure (or a #justB video).

Adoption and Hepatitis B

Have you been thinking about adoption for a long time or have been inspired by NBC’s show, This is Us, to adopt? Adoption is exciting! However, it can be nerve wracking and feel overwhelming. We at the Hepatitis B Foundation can help with one aspect of the adoption process – making sure you have accurate information about hepatitis B.

It is important to be armed with accurate information about hepatitis B when preparing for adoption for both international and domestic adoptions. This can help protect your future child, family members and yourself when you welcome your future child with open arms.

Many people wish to adopt children from countries where hepatitis B infections are common: Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and some parts of Africa. Children from these regions could be infected with the virus since it can be unknowingly passed from birth mothers who have hepatitis B and transmit the disease to their children during delivery. In addition, many of these countries struggle with proper infection control practices that place babies and young children at risk with unsafe medical procedures. Unfortunately, many infants still do not have access to the birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine to help prevent transmission.

Domestic adoptions also present some risk. Children born to women in high-risk groups (e.g. illicit drug users, multiple sexual partners, etc.) could be exposed to hepatitis B at birth. In addition, children from group homes are at increased risk for hepatitis B infection. The good news is that there are procedures in place that can prevent a baby from getting infected if born to an infected mother – and the success rate is up to 95%! This includes providing the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine along with a dose of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) within 12 hours of birth. If you are planning a U.S. adoption, and know that the birth mother is infected, you can ensure that the birth hospital knows about these procedures and can administer the shots on time.

During the adoption process, the adoption agency should tell you if your child has been tested for hepatitis B, but there can be errors if the child was tested only as an infant. With an international adoption, it is advised that you do not request that your child be tested since the blood test itself could be a source of infection. If you are concerned about the results of these tests, please contact us to speak with our knowledgeable staff. We can also refer you to a parent who has adopted a child with hepatitis B. Whether your child has been diagnosed with hepatitis B or not, testing for HBV should be repeated once you’re home. If needed, you can refer to our physician directory to find a pediatric specialist who knows about hepatitis B.

If you do find out that your child does have hepatitis B, you can handle it!Hepatitis B is a manageable disease. Many families seeking a “special needs adoption” choose to adopt a child with chronic hepatitis B because it is manageable and treatable. Hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease, so newly adopted children can be safely integrated into vaccinated families. Children with chronic HBV can expect to live a long and healthy life if they are monitored by a pediatric liver specialist. Some may need treatment during childhood, most probably won’t. Hepatitis B does not affect a child’s growth and development, and there are generally no restrictions associated with chronic hepatitis B. It is recommended that those with chronic hepatitis B see a pediatric liver specialist every six months for hepatitis B management. Often this entails only blood work to monitor the child’s HBV and liver health. Also make sure household members are vaccinated and that you talk to talk to all of your children about the importance of handwashing and “never touching anyone’s blood”. When your children get older, help them acclimate to dating and disclosure. The hepatitis B vaccine is required for school in all but four states.

For some tips, you can visit our website on adoption, children with hepatitis B, and one of our previous blogs. You can also watch some adoption stories from our #justB storytelling campaign. Be sure to watch Maureen’s, Maureen K’s, and Jin’s stories about the international adoption process with hepatitis B. You can also watch Janet and Kurt’s domestic adoption process. Please consider opening your home to an adopted child. It will change your life.