Hep B Blog

We’re Here to Help: New Resource to Improve Medication Access in the U.S.

Are you a hepatitis B patient living in the United States? Are you taking entecavir or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) to help manage your hepatitis B infection? Thanks to the Hepatitis B Foundation’s new strategic partnership with Rx Outreach – America’s largest fully licensed, non-profit, mail order pharmacy and Patient Assistance Program – you may be able to receive your medication for less than 5% of the average retail price!

Each year, we answer thousands of national and international phone calls, emails, and social media messages from people who have been impacted by hepatitis B. Over the past year, we have seen a significant increase in calls regarding access to medication. The majority of those calls have been from people living in the United States. The ability to access medications is more than just having them available at a local pharmacy – it is about the price as well.

In the United States, life-saving generic treatments can cost more than $830 a month on average. As treatments are typically taken for several years after a person begins, paying such high monthly out-of-pocket costs simply isn’t an option for most people. That’s why we partnered with Rx Outreach to increase patient accessibility to life-saving hepatitis B medications.

We believe that affordable treatments should be low-cost and widely available to everyone who needs them. Hepatitis B antiviral treatments need to be taken daily in order to be effective, and a lack of affordable options force some individuals who are living with chronic hepatitis B to avoid diagnosis and treatment, to stop taking medication or to only take it sporadically, which increases their risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer. Our new partnership can help eliminate the need for such potentially harmful actions by providing the same medication at a much lower cost than retail pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance plans can offer.

Rx Outreach provides a 30-day supply of entecavir and TDF – two of the most effective, common, and preferred treatments – through the mail. Interested individuals can enroll in the program with 3 simple steps. If you need to transfer your prescription from another pharmacy, you can do that too!

Eligibility Requirements:

Eligibility is based upon household income, not on insurance status or prescription drug coverage. To be eligible for Rx Outreach’s pricing, please review the chart below or you can check your eligibility here. If it appears that you do not qualify but you believe that you should, you can also call Rx Outreach and a representative will assist you.

Our partnership with Rx Outreach will help to fill a gap in access to affordable medication and help to lessen the burden of one of the many forms of discrimination that those living with hepatitis B must face. It offers more than 1,000 medication strengths at affordable prices. Since 2010, Rx Outreach has saved people in need more than $662 million on their prescription medication.

#Tri4ACure: Racing For Hepatitis B Awareness, Cure Research, and Health

Edwin Tan learned about his hepatitis B diagnosis in high school after he was banned from donating blood to the Red Cross. Unsure as to why he was not allowed to donate, Edwin asked his doctor about it a few years later. When the routine blood tests came back with irregular results, the doctor ordered an additional test for hepatitis B; the hepatitis B test came back positive.

Despite the shock of the diagnosis, Edwin did not let it hold him back! He researched the infection and discovered the importance of keeping his liver healthy. He took steps to change his diet and incorporate more exercise into his daily routine. Studies show that regular exercise can greatly reduce the risk of liver disease and liver cancer. After a friend invited him to participate in a small triathlon, Edwin decided that triathlons and racing were the perfect ways to have fun while staying healthy!  

Now, Edwin is competing in a series of six races in midwestern America to help raise  money and awareness for hepatitis B research, patient outreach, and education through the Hepatitis B Foundation! You can make a gift to support Edwin’s fundraising efforts here.

“Hepatitis B is something that doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of awareness around it, has stigma associated with it, and doesn’t seem to attract the same attention as a lot of other major diseases out there,” said Edwin. “I believe that the Hepatitis B Foundation is working to tackle all of these issues and focus on finding a cure for it. Because hepatitis B was the reason I started racing and I am interested in increasing awareness, I found it fitting to race for the Hepatitis B Foundation.”

On Saturday, June 15th, Edwin competed in the Minnetonka Triathlon in Minnetonka, Minnesota – his first of six races this summer. In just under an hour and a half he accomplished: swimming more than 100 yards, biking 15 miles, and running 3 miles!

Edwin’s next race will be on Saturday, June 22nd at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota and we are looking forward to cheering him as he works hard to raise awareness and prove that those living with hepatitis B can achieve their goals

To follow updates on Edwin’s journey, you can follow the Hepatitis B Foundation or Hep B United on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtag #Tri4ACure!

Know Your Rights: Legal Protections for Those Living With Hepatitis B

Despite being the world’s most common liver infection, hepatitis B remains stigmatized and those living with it can still face discrimination from various sources. Each year, the Hepatitis B Foundation answers numerous calls from around the world from people who have faced school, workplace, and travel challenges due to their hepatitis B status. These challenges are typically rooted in misinformation, outdated laws or guidelines, stigma, and an overall lack of awareness. However, there are laws and organizations who will work to protect you from such discrimination!

The Hepatitis B Foundation has added a new section to our website that focuses on the rights of people living with hepatitis B. We’ve compiled information on common barriers that those living with hepatitis B may face while applying to schools, jobs, or accessing affordable medicine. Each of the below sections provides information on discriminatory practices, what you can do if you experience discrimination, and how the Hepatitis B Foundation is working to fight discrimination.

In the United States, all forms of hepatitis B related discrimination are illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Both laws include provisions that protect people living with chronic conditions. Unfortunately, some forms of discrimination are still legal in certain countries, but steps can sometimes be taken to appeal to immigration policies in these areas. Local organizations can also help those living in foreign countries to navigate complex laws or policies regarding those living with hepatitis B. Many of these organizations can be found through the World Hepatitis Alliance’s member list. Join them and add your voice to eliminate hepatitis B discrimination in your country.

Specific protections, resources, and ways to combat legal discrimination can be found in the Know Your Rights section of our website! If you are faced with discrimination due to hepatitis B, it is important to know your rights and to have information to support your case. Use the information on our site to help advocate for yourself, join with others, or contact the Hepatitis B Foundation at info@hepb.org if you need additional assistance.

If I Have Hepatitis B, Why Doesn’t My Partner?

Why do some people — who were not vaccinated — never get hepatitis B from their sexual partners who are living with chronic hepatitis B? The question is a common one. As a sexually transmitted infection, it may seem obvious that an individual may contract hepatitis B from their partner, especially if they have been together for some time.

It comes down to factors, such as the type of sexual activity partners engage in, the viral load (HBV DNA) of the infected partner, and who is on the receiving end of infectious body fluids, especially blood (which contains the most virus), and semen.

Having one partner infected, while the other is not, can add more stress to an already traumatic hepatitis B diagnosis. “It was very confusing and made me question how was it possible I was the only one infected,” said a woman who tested positive while her husband tested negative. “I thought it was possibly a mistake, maybe I was a biological anomaly, which of course I was not.”

Let’s look at the factors that may play a role in transmission of hepatitis B infection through sexual activity.

Viral load: Semen, vaginal fluids and blood all contain the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and the higher the viral load in the blood of an infected individual, the more infectious they are considered to be. Having an undetectable viral load might reduce or eliminate the chance of transmitting the virus to someone during unprotected sex; research is still trying to assess whether a person with an undetectable viral load in the blood is able to transmit the virus through sex. This is a good reason for individuals living with hepatitis B to talk to their doctor about the benefits of starting antivirals if they have detectable HBV viral load in their blood; treatment which lowers the viral load in the blood might also serve as a prevention measure for transmitting the virus.

Once an individual tests positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), they should encourage their partners to get screened for hepatitis B, and vaccinated if they are still susceptible to the .

The timing of sexual activity: An infected person who is menstruating is more likely to transmit hepatitis B infection to an unvaccinated partner, because menstrual blood can contain higher levels of HBV than vaginal secretions. That is why dental dams and condoms are recommended to provide a reasonable barrier against exposure, during that time of the month.

The type of sexual activity: Certain sexual activities are far more efficient at transmitting hepatitis B virus than others. Oral sex appears to have a lower rate of hepatitis B transmission than vaginal sex. Anal sex carries a higher risk of transmission because of tears in the skin that can occur during penetration, which increases the likelihood of transmission of HBV to an unvaccinated partner.

Fingering carries a lesser risk, unless the infected partner is menstruating while the other partner has bruises or cuts on their hands that could allow entry of hepatitis B virus from the body fluid into the bloodstream. In such cases, gloves are highly recommended.

The hepatitis B status of the other partner: The “uninfected” partner could have already been infected and cleared the virus, or vaccinated as an infant. When a person is first diagnosed with hepatitis B, doctors often test his or her partner for only the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), which indicates a current hepatitis B infection. If they are negative for HBsAg, they are advised to receive the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as possible. However, this does not mean that they were never infected.

Testing for the hepatitis B surface antibody (also known as anti-HBs or HBsAb), and hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb) is the only way to identify a past recovered infection or prior vaccination.

Hepatitis B is often called the “silent” infection because many people who get hepatitis B may not experience any of the alarming symptoms (like fever or jaundice). As a result, many individuals may never realize they were infected. A partner who tested negative for HBsAg, may actually have been infected in the past and cleared the infection and now has protective hepatitis B surface antibodies to forever safeguard them from infection. If they’re vaccinated without proper screening, then tested for HBsAb after vaccination, they will test positive for surface antibodies, without ever knowing that their antibodies resulted from a past infection, not immunization.

Bottom line, if one partner is diagnosed with hepatitis B and the other is not, it might seem unusual, but it is not uncommon. Just like any other virus, there is not a 100% chance of transmission with exposure. The undiagnosed partner should get tested using the 3-panel blood test (HBsAg, HBsAb, and HBcAb) and immediately vaccinated if they are still vulnerable to a hepatitis B infection (HBsAb negative).

The is safe, effective, and provides lifelong protection.

Take a quiz to find out how much you know about hepatitis B transmission: click here.