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Hepatitis B Causes & Risks


This virus is spread through contact with body fluids of an infected person. Fluids include:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Saliva
A woman with hepatitis can pass the virus onto her baby during birth. The hepatitis B virus is not spread through food or water.

Risk Factors

The following situations may increase your risk of getting hepatitis B:

  • Having sex with someone infected with hepatitis B or who is a carrier of hepatitis B
  • Injecting illicit drugs, especially with shared needles
  • Having more than one sexual partner
  • Being a man who has sex with men
  • Living in the same house with someone who is infected with hepatitis B
  • Having a job that involves contact with body fluids, such as:
    • First aid or emergency workers
    • Funeral directors
    • Medical personnel
    • Dentists
    • Dental assistants
    • Firefighters
    • Police personnel
  • Having a sexually transmitted disease at the time you come in contact with hepatitis B
  • Traveling to areas where hepatitis B is common, such as China, southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa
  • Receiving a blood transfusion prior to 1992 (the year a more reliable test to screen blood was developed)
  • Receiving multiple transfusions of blood or blood products, as hemophiliacs do (risk is greatly reduced with modern blood screening techniques)
  • Working or being a patient in a hospital or long-term care facility
  • Working or being incarcerated in a prison
  • Being bitten so that the skin is broken by someone whose saliva contains the virus
  • Receiving hemodialysis treatment

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2016 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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