Hepatitis B is transmitted through semen (cum), vaginal fluids, blood, and urine during sex – vaginal, anal or oral – or through needles, razors, or toothbrushes with blood on them.
Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it and is not treated.
When used consistently and correctly, condoms protect against hepatitis B and many other STDs.
A vaccine to protect against infection is available for hepatitis B. It requires a series of three shots provided by a healthcare provider over several months. You need all three shots for it to be effective.
Most babies now get the hepatitis B vaccine from their healthcare provider as a regular part of their checkups.
About half of adults with hepatitis B do not experience any symptoms. If people do have symptoms, they may go unnoticed or look like other common illnesses, like the flu. Hepatitis B symptoms typically last for a few weeks, but can sometimes last for months.
If symptoms do appear, they may include: stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, joint pain, fever, dark-colored urine, or hives. Because hepatitis B affects the liver, it may also cause jaundice – when the eyes and skin yellow.
Hepatitis B is tested with a blood sample. It may take up to two months after infection before a positive result.
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