Hepatitis Bisan infection of the liver caused by a virus that's spread through blood and body fluids.
It often doesn't cause any obvious symptoms in adultsand typically passes in a few months without treatment, but inchildren itoften persists for years and may eventually cause serious liver damage.
Hepatitis B is less common in the UK than other parts of the world, but certain groups are at an increased risk. This includes people originally from high-risk countries , people who inject drugs, and people who have unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners.
A hepatitis B vaccine is available for people at high risk of the condition.
This page covers:
Many people with hepatitis B won't experience any symptoms and may fight off the virus without realising they had it.
If symptoms do develop, they tend to occur two or three months after exposure to the hepatitis B virus.
Symptoms of hepatitis B include:
These symptoms will usually pass within one to three months (acute hepatitis B), althoughoccasionally the infection can last for six months or more (chronic hepatitis B).
The hepatitis B virus is foundin theblood and bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluids, of an infected person.
It can be spread by:
Hepatitis B isn't spreadby kissing,holding hands, hugging, coughing, sneezing, or sharing crockeryand utensils.
A vaccine that offers protection against hepatitis B is available for people at high risk of the infection.
The hepatitis B vaccine isn't given as part of the routine vaccination schedule and sometimes you may have to pay for it.
The vast majority of people infected with hepatitis B in adulthood are able to fight off the virus and fully recover within one to three months. Most will then be immune to the infection for life.
Babies and children with hepatitis B are more likely to develop a chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis B affects around:
Although treatment can help, there's a risk that people withchronic hepatitis B could eventually develop life-threatening problems such asscarring of the liver (cirrhosis) or liver cancer .
Read about hepatitis B, an infection of the liver that's caused by a virus. Find out about the symptoms, causes, treatments and risks of the condition.
Read about the main symptoms of hepatitis B and how long they usually last.
You can become infected with hepatitis B if you're not immune to the virus and you come into contact with infected blood or body fluids.
Read about when hepatitis B needs to be treated and what the main treatments are.
Read about the possible complications of hepatitis B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.