Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B, also known as Hep B, is a sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) that affects the liver. The virus transmits by contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk.

The virus passes from person to person in the following ways:

  • Vaginal, anal, or oral sex without proper use of a condom and/or oral dam
  • Sharing needles and other injecting equipment
  • Sharing personal hygiene items, such as toothbrushes and razors
  • Contaminated tattooing and body piercing equipment.
  • To an infant during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.


50-70% of people infected with hepatitis B may show no symptoms.

Others may experience jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye), or flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • Abdominal and/or joint pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Skin rash

Testing and Treatment

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable infection.

A blood test can confirm if you have a hepatitis B infection.  See your health-care provider to discuss your risk(s) and to get tested.

Once you are infected, there is no cure for hepatitis B, but treatments are available. See your health-care provider to discuss treatment options.


Prevention is key to protecting yourself and your partner.

  • Talk about STBBIs and safer sex options with every partner to ensure that you protect one another.
  • Use a condom and/or oral dam properly and consistently each time you are sexually active.
  • See your healthcare provider or go to a sexual health clinic to be tested for STBBIs if you are sexually active or starting a sexual relationship with a new partner.
  • You and your partner should be tested for STBBIs before becoming sexually active and then again in three to six months.
  • Check that you are up to date with vaccinations against Hepatitis and HPV (Human Papillomavirus).

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Last updated: 2023-07-25