Nearly half of people with
hep B are undiagnosed

Hep B. Could it be me?

Hepatitis B (hep B) is an infection of the liver that can cause liver damage and liver cancer. Hep B can be acute or chronic. Many people can live with hep B for many years without feeling sick.

Most adults who get infected with the hep B virus will clear the virus within 6 months and develop protection against it. Once they clear it, they cannot be infected with the hep B virus again and cannot pass it on to others. This is called acute hep B.

When the infection lasts for more than six months, the person has developed chronic hep B. 90% of babies who get hep B will develop chronic infection which can cause liver damage and sometimes liver cancer when they are adults.

Most people living with hep B got the virus at birth or in childhood. The younger a person is when they get hep B, the higher the risk of developing chronic hep B, which means the virus will stay with them for life.

In Australia, over 239,000 people have chronic hep B. Nearly half of those people don’t know they have it. The majority of people living with chronic hep B in Australia were born in countries where hep B is common.

Have you been vaccinated for hep B?

There is an effective and safe vaccine for hep B. Getting vaccinated is the best way to ensure you do not get the virus. Since May 2000, all babies born in Australia have been vaccinated for hep B.

You can get hep B vaccinations from a doctor or a sexual health clinic. Vaccinations are free for people at high risk of getting hep B. To be fully protected, you need three separate injections within six months. Talk to your doctor or sexual health nurse to find out more.

You can also call the Hepatitis Infoline to find out more
about hep B vaccination.

Could you be at risk?

The most common way hep B is passed on around the world is at birth or during early childhood. This is the highest risk for people born in parts of the world where hep B is common like Asia, the Pacific Islands and Sub-Saharan Africa.

As an adult you can get the virus if you:

  • Have unprotected sex with someone who has the hep B virus
  • Share injecting equipment – needles or spoons, filters, cotton-balls, tourniquets, water or swabs
  • Share earrings, razors, nail clippers, or toothbrushes
  • Re-use piercing or tattooing equipment when getting a piercing or tattoo
  • Touch infected blood or bodily fluids
  • Have an operation or get a vaccination in a country where medical equipment is re-used and not sterilised

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