Hep B Blog

Tag Archives: HBV transmission

Diagnosed with Hepatitis B? Preventing Transmission to Others Learning the HBV Basics, Transmission Part II

Part I discussed how hepatitis B is transmitted and may have helped you determine how you were infected with HBV.   In Part II we will discuss the people closest to you who may be susceptible to your infection.

Anyone exposed to HBV is susceptible. This is true if you have not already been vaccinated, or are not taking precautions. HBV does not discriminate. However, those most susceptible to infection are your sexual partners, close household contacts or family members. Why are the these people more susceptible?  Remember that HBV is transmitted through blood and infected body fluids, so sexual partners will be at risk. Unfortunately even close contacts without sexual intimacy may also be at risk. These include family members or roommates that might borrow your razor, the nail clippers on the downstairs counter, or your favorite pair of pierced earrings. Such personal items may have trace amounts of blood on them.  Hepatitis B can live outside the body for a week. It just makes sense that the odds of an exposure will happen with someone you live with just due to the increased potential for daily exposure in simple grooming routines or household activities where blood could be exchanged. The good news is that HBV is preventable.

It is important to know that unvaccinated babies and young children are more susceptible to HBV. This is because they have undeveloped, immature immune systems. In fact 90% of babies and up to 50% of young children infected with HBV will have life-long infection. That is why hepatitis B vaccination is so important for babies and young children.

So what should you do? You need to do the right thing. You need to talk to sexual partners and close contacts and family members now that you know you are infected. You don’t need to tell everyone; just those that you believe are at risk. Tell them to ask their doctor to run a hepatitis B panel.

The hepatitis B panel is one blood test with 3 parts: HBsAg – surface antigen;  HBcAb – core antibody; and HBsAb – surface antibody.  When read in combination, this one test can tell your close contacts if they are currently infected, have resolved a previous infection, and whether or not they have immunity to the hepatitis B virus. Typically the blood test results are straight forward, but sometimes they can be tricky. Ask those tested to discuss their results with their doctor, and to keep a copy of the blood tests results for review.

One important factor for those that may have been exposed is the timing. There is up to a 9 week window period between an exposure to HBV and when the hepatitis B virus shows up in the blood resulting in a positive test result.  If you tell your partner and they insist on immediate testing, they need to understand that they will need to be re-tested 9 weeks later to ensure whether or not they have been infected. AND, it is essential to practice safe sex and follow general precautions until everyone is sure of their status –both the known and potentially infected.

Remember you may still be in a waiting period trying to determine if you are acutely or chronically infected. Very possibly you have not had symptoms with your HBV. Nearly 70% of those with newly infected with HBV have no notable symptoms. It’s also very likely you are unsure when you were infected.  And of course it’s possible you are chronically infected and have had HBV for quite some time. It’s stressful and little confusing not knowing the details of your infection, but you need to move forward doing the right thing and talking to those at risk and taking care of yourself.

Take a look at Part I and Part III for further discussion of HBV transmission.

First World Hepatitis Summit Focuses on Global Plan for Elimination by 2030

The joint North and South Americas group build relationships across borders to eradicate hepatitis B.
The North and South Americas group builds relationships to eradicate viral hepatitis.

The mood was euphoric. It was a love fest, actually. Last week, more than 600 policy makers, public health experts, and representatives from non-governmental organizations and patient advocacy groups from 80 countries were invited to participate in the first World Hepatitis Summit in Scotland hosted by the World Hepatitis Alliance in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). The Hepatitis B Foundation was pleased to be invited and to speak during the pre-summit meeting as well.

The message was serious. Hepatitis B and C kill more people each year than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and combined are the seventh-leading cause of death worldwide, yet viral hepatitis as a global health concern remains mostly invisible and under-funded. Continue reading "First World Hepatitis Summit Focuses on Global Plan for Elimination by 2030"

Four Things Fathers Affected by Hepatitis B Can Do for Themselves and Their Families

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Father’s Day, June 21, is a day to celebrate the contributions men make in their children’s lives. It’s also a good day for fathers to acknowledge how valuable they are to their families and how important it is to take care of their health.

Living with chronic hepatitis B can be challenging. Here are some things dads can do to take care of themselves or family members infected with hepatitis B.

1. Get outside and soak in some sunlight and some vitamin D. People with hepatitis B who have vitamin D deficiencies have higher rates of liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer. A healthy diet provides vitamin D, but 80 percent of our vitamin D comes from 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight two to three times a week. So get outside and walk, garden, exercise and soak in some healthy sunlight.

Continue reading "Four Things Fathers Affected by Hepatitis B Can Do for Themselves and Their Families"

The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 2

1716136dfa105e7f9bdf96de16e31742You can’t neatly package and control everything, but you can use good judgment and not over react when thinking about hepatitis B transmission. HBV is not casually transmitted, but you know yourself, and both infected and uninfected individuals can take simple precautions. If you don’t have hepatitis B and you are sexually active, make sure you are vaccinated. If you have HBV, encourage your partners to get vaccinated.

(Click here if you’re looking for Part 1) Continue reading "The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 2"

The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 1

1716136dfa105e7f9bdf96de16e31742All pun and a little fun is intended with this title, but the “adult” version of hepatitis B transmission is a serious concern. There are “shades of gray” when it comes to hepatitis B transmission and the degree of risk with sexual activity. Continue reading "The Fifty Shades of “Gray” of Hepatitis B Transmission – Part 1"

Kudos to HBF’s Blog Voted as a “Sexual Health Top 10, Must Read Blog”

The team at Health Express has voted HBF’s blog as one of the “Must Read Blogs of 2013 – Sexual Health Top 10!”  HealthExpress.co.uk is an online clinic that provides support, advice and treatment for common medical conditions that patients do not always feel comfortable talking about. You can take a look at their recommended Top 10 blogs and learn more about them at healthexpress.co.uk.

The accolades from the HealthExpress team are a great opportunity to review transmission of the hepatitis B virus. HBV is transmitted through infected blood and body fluids. This includes direct blood-to-blood contact, unprotected sex, unsterile needles, and from an infected woman to her newborn baby at birth.  Sharing sharp, personal items that may have trace amounts of blood on them such a razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers and body jewelry including earrings, can also spread the virus.  Remember that the HBV virus may live up to a week on a surface resulting in possible transmission through direct blood-to-blood contact. This is why close, household contacts or family members are at greater risk of infection if one or more members are living with HBV. Don’t forget to be sure your tattoo or piercing experience is safe and that the parlor carefully follows infection control practices. Hepatitis B is also 50-100 times more infectious than the HIV virus.

Hepatitis B is also a sexually transmitted disease and is spread through infected semen, vaginal fluids and any blood that may be exchanged as part of a sexual practice – most often through sexual intercourse. In the United States, sexual transmission is the most common mode of HBV transmission and is responsible for 2/3 of acute HBV infections. A common question is “what about oral sex?” In general, oral sex would be considered less risky, but any kind of intimate sharing that may result in the exchange of bodily fluids will present some degree of risk.

So how can you prevent hepatitis B transmission between sexual partners? Fortunately there is a safe and effective hepatitis B vaccine to protect against the spread of HBV.  Get screened for HBV and vaccinate to protect – especially if you or your partner has more than one sexual partner, or if one or more partners is at greater risk.  When in doubt, get screened. Keep in mind that HBV is referred to as a “silent infection” since it may take decades for symptoms to occur. People with chronic HBV may be completely unaware of their infection and inadvertently spread HBV to their partner(s) if precautions are not taken.

Other precautions include practicing safe sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom. A lambskin condom will not prevent the spread of hepatitis B or other viral STDs. Looking for condom details?

A general comment to those with multiple sex partners– We are very fortunate to have a vaccine to protect against the hepatitis B virus. However, practicing safe sex with an effective condom is always advised to prevent the transmission of other infectious diseases that are not vaccine preventable, such as HCV and HIV, along with condom use to prevent the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases. Use common sense. No one wants a sexually transmitted disease, and if you have HBV, you really don’t want a coinfection. It can really complicate your life.