What Causes Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or other body fluids of an infected person. Here are the common modes of transmission:

  1. Unprotected sexual contact: HBV can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, especially if there are open sores or mucous membrane exposure.
  2. Direct contact with infected blood: Sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia with an infected person, accidental needle sticks, or exposure to infected blood during medical procedures can transmit the virus.
  3. Mother-to-child transmission: An infected mother can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth. The risk of transmission can be reduced with appropriate preventive measures such as administering the hepatitis B vaccine to the newborn and providing hepatitis B immunoglobulin.
  4. Contact with contaminated items: The virus can survive outside the body for several days, and contact with contaminated items like needles, razors, or toothbrushes can spread the infection.
  5. Sharing personal items: Sharing personal items such as razors, toothbrushes, or earrings that may have blood on them can lead to transmission if the items are contaminated with infected blood.
  6. Occupational exposure: Healthcare workers and others who come into contact with blood or body fluids are at an increased risk of hepatitis B infection if proper safety precautions are not followed.

It’s important to note that hepatitis B is not transmitted through casual contact such as hugging, kissing, or sharing food or drinks with an infected person. However, it is a highly infectious virus, and even small amounts of infected blood can transmit the infection.

Prevention of hepatitis B primarily involves vaccination. The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent infection. Practicing safe sex, avoiding sharing needles or personal items, and using appropriate infection control measures in healthcare settings can also help prevent the spread of the virus. If you suspect you may have been exposed to hepatitis B or have concerns about the infection, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for testing, diagnosis, and appropriate medical care.