There are three different types of the hepatitis virus: A, B, C, D and E. All are viruses that target and attack the liver. However they range in severity and how they are transferred from person to person. Hepatitis B is the strain most known for its ability to be passed through sexual contact. Medical health professionals and experts are unsure if hepatitis C is able to also be passed through sexual contact, but if so, the risk is very small.
What is Hepatitis B?
- Hepatitis B is a virus that is found in the higher concentrations of blood and other bodily fluids including semen and vaginal secretions. The incubation period from infection to signs of symptoms is usually about six weeks to six months, so it can be difficult to tell if you or your sexual partner is infected. Hepatitis can be self limited or chronic.
- About 90 percent of infected adults will be able to clear the infection. However for the remaining 10 percent become chronically infected. Out of children, 30 percent become chronically infected and 90 percent of infants face chronic infection, which is often fatal due to liver failure.
- Unlike other sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B can actually survive outside the body for a period up to seven days.
Hepatitis B Statistics:
- One out of three people have contracted hepatitis B throughout the world totaling about two billion people.
- 400 million people are chronically infected throughout the world, according to several hepatitis statistics.
- There are 10 to 30 million new cases each year of hepatitis B throughout the world.
- About one million people die each year from hepatitis B complications, according to hepatitis statistics.
- About two people throughout the world die each minute from hepatitis B complications.
- In the United States alone nearly 12 million Americans are infected with hepatitis B.
- More than one million of those Americans are chronically infected, according to STD statistics.
- There are about 100,000 new hepatitis B infections in the United States each year.
- About 1 health care worker dies each day from hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B Transmission:
- Sex with infected partner
- Drugs using an injection method like needles or syringes and sharing those with an infected person
- An infected mother can give hepatitis B to her baby during birth
- Contact with blood or open sores/wounds of a person infected with hepatitis B
- Sharing certain items with an infected person like toothbrush or razor
- Hepatitis B cannot be transmitted through food, water, eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing
- Fever and fatigue
- Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
- Dark urine and clay colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice skin
- There is no treatment for acute hepatitis B. The disease should clear on its own.
- For chronic hepatitis B, there is no cure. Treatment involves the use of an antiviral drug and constant monitoring. This is necessary to watch the level of progression to prevent liver failure.
- The best way to avoid contracting hepatitis B through sexual contact is to abstain from unprotected sexual contact. It is also important to avoid spreading of bodily fluids through the use of shared drug needles.
- Because vaccinations are available to prevent catching and spreading the disease, it is important for all children and infants to take part in the vaccination process.
- Routine screening of all pregnant mothers is also a good idea to make sure if she is infected, she does not pass it on to her unborn baby.
- Any adults who have not yet gotten vaccinated for hepatitis B should also do so to ensure they do not contract the disease.
Sources: http://www.hepb.org, cdc.gov