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Post-Exposure Treatment for Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B Post-Exposure TreatmentiStock 57288338 MEDIUM

If an uninfected, unvaccinated person - or anyone who does not know their hepatitis B status - is exposed to the hepatitis B virus through contact with infected blood, a timely “postexposure prophylaxis” (PEP) can prevent an infection and subsequent development of a chronic infection or liver disease. This means a person should seek immediate medical attention to start the hepatitis B vaccine series. In some circumstances a drug called “hepatitis B immune globulin” (HBIG) is recommended in addition to the hepatitis B vaccine for added protection.

If you have been recently exposed to bodily fluids and are concerned about hepatitis B, please reach out to your health care provider as soon as possible (within 24-48 hours is best).You can also contact your health department or Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator for help accessing HBIG, as most health care providers don’t carry HBIG in their offices.

Key Points:

  • Any person who is uninfected/unvaccinated or does not know their hepatitis B status should receive “postexposure prophylaxis” after contact with potentially infected blood.
  • Neither pregnancy nor breastfeeding should be considered a contraindication to administration of the hepatitis B vaccination and HBIG to women.
  • Employers are required to establish exposure-control plans that include follow-up for their employees and to comply with incident reporting requirements mandated by the 1992 OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard.

Learn more about this topic from the CDC.

Read this article published by the HBF public health team: Freeland C, Cohen C, Collier M. (2018). Public health response to hepatitis B exposure: A case study on gaps and opportunities to improve postexposure care. Infectious Disease in Clinical Practice; 26(4):185-186.

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