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About Hepatitis B
Overview of Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
- Many people living with hepatitis B do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected.
- HBV is spread through contact when infected blood or body fluids from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.
- Examples: During delivery, through sex, or by sharing syringes or equipment used to prepare or inject drugs.
- A safe vaccine is available and highly effective in preventing hepatitis B infection and liver disease.
- Persons with chronic hepatitis B virus infection are at increased risk for liver cancer and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and are 75-85% more likely to die prematurely than the general population.
What are Hepatitis B risk factors? How does Hepatitis B relate to liver cancer?
- People who inject drugs or share needles, syringes, and other types of drug equipment.
- Sex partners of people living with hepatitis B.
- People who have sexually transmitted infections.
- People living with HIV infection.
- Men who have sex with men.
- People who live with someone who is living with hepatitis B.
- Health care and public safety workers exposed to blood on the job.
- People on dialysis.
- People who have elevated levels of certain liver enzymes.
Unresolved hepatitis B can lead to a serious infection, known as chronic hepatitis B. Over time, chronic hepatitis B can cause health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer, and even death. If symptoms occur with chronic hepatitis B, they can take years to develop and can be a sign of advanced liver disease.
What are the recommendations for Hepatitis B testing and vaccination?
Testing is the only way to know if you or your loved ones have a current infection or have recovered from a past infection.
Summary of 2023 HBV testing recommendations include:
- Hepatitis B testing for all adults aged 18 years and older at least once in their lifetime.
- Hepatitis B testing for all pregnant persons during each pregnancy, preferably in the first trimester, regardless of vaccination status or history of testing.
- Hepatitis B testing for Infants born to pregnant people with HBV infection.
- Hepatitis B testing for any person who requests it, regardless of disclosure of risk.
- Periodic hepatitis B testing for anyone with ongoing risk for exposure.
The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns, children up to age 18, adults 19-59 years of age, and adults 60 and older who are at high-risk for infection. Since everyone is at some risk, all adults should seriously consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine for lifetime protection against preventable chronic liver disease.
The hepatitis B vaccine is also known as the first “anti-cancer” vaccine because it prevents hepatitis B, the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide.
How to get tested for Hepatitis B?
Talk to your healthcare provider or contact your local health department. (For your county office information, click here.)
What are the recommendations for treatment?
How is acute (short-term) hepatitis B treated?
Acute hepatitis B is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed. There is no medication available to treat acute hepatitis B. For people with mild symptoms, health care providers usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids. Those with more severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized.
How is chronic hepatitis B treated?
Acute hepatitis B can lead to life-long infection known as chronic hepatitis B. People living with chronic hepatitis B should be evaluated for liver problems and monitored on a regular basis. Treatment can slow the progression of cirrhosis, reduce incidence of liver cancer, and improve long term survival. However, not every person with chronic hepatitis B needs medication, and the drugs may cause side effects in some patients. People who start hepatitis B treatment may need to take medication indefinitely because these medications do not lead to a cure.
If a pregnant person has hepatitis B, is there a way to prevent their baby from getting hepatitis B?
Yes. Almost all cases of hepatitis B can be prevented in babies born to pregnant people with hepatitis B, but these newborns must receive the necessary shots at the recommended times. Your doctor should give the combination of hepatitis B immune globulin (known as HBIG) and hepatitis B vaccine to infants born to pregnant people with hepatitis B within 12 hours of birth to protect them from infection. To best protect your baby, follow the advice from your baby’s doctor.
Learn More - Resource Links
About Hepatitis C
Overview of Hepatitis C and Cancer
- Hepatitis C can be either acute, meaning a new infection, or chronic, meaning a long-term infection.
- Currently, there is no vaccine that can prevent Hepatitis C.
- All adults 18 years of age or older should be tested for Hepatitis C.
- Treatment is recommended for all people with Hepatitis C, whether they have acute Hepatitis C or chronic Hepatitis C.
- Chronic Hepatitis C can be a lifelong infection and can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer, and even death.
What are Hepatitis C risk factors? How does Hepatitis C relate to liver cancer?
The following people are at increased risk for hepatitis C:
- People who use injection drugs or did so in the past, even those who injected only once many years ago
- People with HIV infection
- People with certain medical conditions, including those who ever received maintenance hemodialysis and those with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels (an enzyme found within liver cells).
- People who have received transfusions or organ transplants, including those who
- received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
- received a transfusion of blood or blood components before July 1992
- received an organ transplant before July 1992
- were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C virus infection
- Health care, emergency medical, and public safety personnel who have been exposed to the blood of someone who has hepatitis C (through needle sticks, sharps, or mucosal exposures)
- Children born to mothers who have hepatitis C
- Chronic hepatitis C can be a lifelong infection if left untreated. Chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer, and even death.
What are the recommendations for Hepatitis C screening for adults?
Universal hepatitis C screening:
- Hepatitis C screening at least once in a lifetime for all adults aged 18 years and older, except in settings where the prevalence of HCV infection (HCV RNA positivity) is less than 0.1%*
- Hepatitis C screening for all pregnant women during each pregnancy, except in settings where the prevalence of HCV infection (HCV RNA positivity) is less than 0.1%*
- Source: Screen all adult patients for hepatitis C | CDC
How can I get tested for Hepatitis C?
Talk to your healthcare provider or local health department.
Learn More - Resource Links
- We Treat Hep C Initiative (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)
- Testing Recommendations for Hepatitis C Virus Infection (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Hepatitis C FAQs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Cancer Resources for Michigan Communities (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)
More information can be found at: What is Hepatitis C - FAQ | CDC