Commonly Asked Questions about Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is dangerous because it is a “silent infection,” which means it can infect people without them knowing it. Most people who are infected with hepatitis B are unaware of their infection and can unknowingly spread the virus to others through their infected blood and bodily fluids. For those who become chronically infected, there is an increased risk of developing serious liver disease later in life. The virus can quietly and continuously attack the liver over many years without being detected. The only way to confirm a hepatitis B infection is through a blood test.
For an "acute" infection, there is generally no treatment required other than rest and supportive measures to manage any symptoms. For "chronic" hepatitis B, there are several approved first-line therapies in the US: Pegylated interferon (Pegasys), and two antivirals, Baraclude (entecavir), and Viread (tenofovir). These drugs control and manage the virus and reduce potential liver damage. In rare cases, they may even get rid of the virus completely. For a complete list of FDA approved drugs and other promising drugs in development for hepatitis B, visit our Drug Watch document.