Risks at a glance
- Long-term, chronic infection
- Cirrhosis – a type of liver damage where healthy cells are replaced by scar tissue
- Liver cancer
- Liver failure
- 25% will die early from these complications.
About the disease
Hepatitis B is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. For some people is a short-term illness. For others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection and that is when the above complications can happen.
How is it spread
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood and other body fluids from an infected person or from a mother to baby during birth. Most people with hepatitis B don’t know they have it so that allows it to spread because if people don’t know they have it they don’t take precautions. The hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for at least 7 days. During that time, the virus is still capable of causing infection which is why vaccination is a good idea because you never know if you will come in contact with the virus. This is also why babies are vaccinated against it at birth, because babies put everything in their mouths and it is possible that someone who doesn’t even know they have hepatitis B could contaminate something that a baby later puts in their mouth.
There is no cure for hepatitis B but some treatments like antivirals can help manage the effects of the infection, these are mostly used when a person has signs of liver damage from hepatitis B.
Impact of hepatitis b:
Accross the world, approximately 257 million people have chronic hepatitis B.
The hepatitis b vaccine can protect against hepatitis B.
Real life stories:
You can read some real-life hepatitis b stories here.