About Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It can cause both acute and chronic disease. For people who are chronically infected, many have no symptoms yet their liver is still being silently damaged which can develop into serious liver disease such as liver cancer

Most people who have chronic hepatitis B are completely unaware they have it. The first step is knowing.
About Hep B:
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How Hep B is Transmitted

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through infected blood in the following ways:
 

BBS: Birth, Blood and Sex

  • Birth: From a mother to a child at the time of birth (most common for APIs)

  • Blood: Contact with infected blood (needle sharing)

  • Sex: Unprotected sex

Among the Asian & Pacific Islander (API) community, transmission of HBV frequently occurs during the birth process when the virus is passed on to the baby from a mother who is often unaware that she is infected. If symptoms do appear they often are exhibited at the end stages of disease when treatment options are limited or ineffective.

Since perinatal transmission is the most common, prevention is of the utmost importance in the Asian community.

HBV is very efficiently transmitted by unprotected sex, so all API adults who are sexually active should be vaccinated to prevent infection.

 

In addition, the younger the individual at the time of exposure, the greater the risk of developing life-long chronic hepatitis B: 

  • More than 90% of infants (1 or less) who are infected with hepatitis B will develop chronic hepatitis B.

  • 30% - 50% of young children between 1 and 5 years who are infected will develop chronic hepatitis B.

  • Only 5-10% of healthy adults 19 years and older who are infected will develop chronic hepatitis B infection (that is, 90% will get acute hepatitis B and recover).

 
 

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

Most APIs are infected at birth or early childhood, when symptoms may never develop. Thus the disease can progress undetected. If symptoms do appear, they often appear too late, when the disease has become fatal and when treatment options are limited or ineffective. Only 30% of those with acute infections develop symptoms. When symptoms of hepatitis B infection do develop, they include: 


• Jaundice
• Fatigue
• Abdominal pain
• Loss of appetite 

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Acute vs. Chronic Hepatitis B

A hepatitis B infection can result in either an acute infection or a chronic infection. When a person is first infected with the hepatitis B virus, it is called an "acute infection" (or a new infection). Most healthy adults that are infected do not have any symptoms and are able to get rid of the virus without any problems. Some adults are unable to get rid of the virus after six months and they are diagnosed as having a "chronic infection." A simple blood test can diagnose an acute or chronic hepatitis B infection.

The risk of developing a chronic hepatitis B infection is directly related to the age at which a person is first exposed to the hepatitis B virus. The younger a person is when they are first infected, the greater the risk of developing a chronic hepatitis B infection:

  • More than 90% of infants that are infected will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection

  • Up to 50% of young children between 1 and 5 years who are infected will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection

  • 5-10% of healthy adults 19 years and older who are infected will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection (that is, 90% will recover from an exposure)

 

Most pregnant women do not know whether they are infected with hepatitis B and can unknowingly pass the virus to their newborns during childbirth. Therefore, since the risk of newborns becoming chronically infected at birth is so high, both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all infants receive the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine within 12-24 hours after birth.

The recommendation for hepatitis B vaccination of babies and children is so important because they are at the greatest risk of developing a chronic infection if they are not protected against the hepatitis B virus as soon as possible. 

The ABC's of Hepatitis

"Hepatitis" refers to any disease that results in inflammation of the liver, regardless of how that disease is contracted. 

HEPATITIS A

Acute or chronic:

  • Acute


Transmission:

  • Fecal-oral route: When an uninfected person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an individual infected with hepatitis A.


Cure:

  • Self-resolving with no lasting liver damage. After one infection, your body develops antibodies that prevents re-infection.

Prevention: 

  • Hepatitis A vaccine

HEPATITIS B

Acute or chronic:

  • Acute and chronic

 

Transmission:

  • Through contaminated blood and sexual fluids


Cure:

  • No cure

 

Prevention:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine

 

HEPATITIS C

Acute or chronic:

  • Acute and chronic. 

  • Infection becomes chronic in more than 50% of cases regardless of when you were infected.

 

Transmission:

  • Through contaminated blood

 

Cure:

  • Can be cured through a series of treatments


Prevention:

  • No effective vaccine is available at this time

Hepatitis cannot be transmitted through coughing or sneezing.

 

For more information on the different types of hepatitis please visit the CDC website.

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CONTACT US

101 Grove Street #406

San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone: (415) 554-2638

info@sfhepbfree-bayarea.org

WANT YOUR HEPATITIS B QUESTION ANSWERED?

Call and leave a message on our support line at 415-336-2629 (Cantonese, Mandarin and English)

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