The Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes inflammation to the liver and can lead to liver cell damage, cirrhosis, and cancer. It is highly transmissible through sexual acts. It is considered over 10 times as infectious as HIV. It is also easily transmitted by blood. This includes menstrual blood, bleeding after anal scenes, and even blood that can be present after dental work or tooth brushing if gums are subject to bleed. Hepatitis B virus can live for weeks, even on dry surfaces. For this reason, toys and props must be cleaned and disinfected before, after, and between scenes. It is extremely transmissible by sharing needles. Like Hep A, it is extremely dangerous to anyone infected with Hepatitis C.
Chronic infection from Hepatitis B can occur in about 10% of persons infected, with death occurring in about 15% to 25% of persons of chronically infected individuals.
What are the symptoms?
About 30% of individuals will have no signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and/or joint pain.
How is it transmitted?
HBV is transmitted when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. HBV is spread through having sex with an infected person without using a condom (the efficacy of latex condoms in preventing infection with HBV is unknown, but their proper use may reduce transmission), by sharing drugs, needles, through needle sticks or sharps exposures on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth. Contact with infected blood, seminal fluid, and vaginal secretions, contaminated drug needles, including tattoo and body piercing tools. Persons at risk for HBV infection might also be at risk for infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) or HIV.
How is it treated?
HBV infected persons should be evaluated by their doctor for liver disease. Adefovir dipivoxil, interferon alfa-2b, pegylated interferon alfa-2a, lamivudine, and entecavir are five drugs used for the treatment of persons with chronic hepatitis B. These drugs should not be used by pregnant women. Drinking alcohol can make your liver disease worse.
How is it prevented?
Hepatitis B vaccine is the best protection. If you are having sex, but not with one steady partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time you have sex. The efficacy of latex condoms in preventing infection with HBV is unknown, but their proper use may reduce transmission. If you are pregnant, you should get a blood test for hepatitis B; Infants born to HBV-infected mothers should be given HBIG (hepatitis B immune globulin) and vaccine within 12 hours after birth. Do not shoot drugs; if you shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program; if you can't stop, never share drugs, needles, syringes, water, or "works", and get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. Do not share personal care items that might have blood on them (razors, toothbrushes). Consider the risks if you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing. You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health practices. If you have or had hepatitis B, do not donate blood, organs, or tissue. If you are a health care or public safety worker, get vaccinated against hepatitis B, be certain to always follow routine barrier precautions, and safely handle needles and other sharp items.