What is it?
A viral infection affecting the liver – HBV can be acute (mild illness lasting for a short time) or chronic (a serious life-long illness).
How common is it?
An estimated 38,000 people are infected with HBV each year (most of which are acquired through sex). Up to 1.4 million people are already infected with chronic HBV. Learn more at www.cdc.gov.
What are the symptoms?
Many people don’t have any symptoms, especially adults. People may experience tiredness, aches, nausea & vomiting, loss of appetite, darkening of urine, tenderness in the stomach, or yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (called jaundice). Symptoms of acute HBV may appear 1 to 6 months after exposure. Symptoms of chronic HBV can take up to 30 years to appear, although liver damage can occur silently.
How do you get it?
Through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Also through childbirth if the baby does not get vaccinated against HBV; sharing contaminated needles or razors; or exposure to the blood, bodily fluids (like cum) or saliva of an infected person.
How do you treat it?
Most often, acute HBV is treated with rest, eating well, and lots of fluids. Chronic HBV is treated through close monitoring by a doctor and anti-retroviral medications.
What are the consequences if left untreated?
Increased risk for infection of other STDs, including HIV. Chronic, persistent inflammation of the liver and later cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. Babies born to infected women are likely to develop chronic HBV infection if they don’t get needed immunizations at birth (including HBV vaccination).
Get Yourself Tested
Anyone who has had sex may be at risk for an STD, even when there are no symptoms. Talk to your health care provider about testing.
Can it be prevented?
Vaccines are the best way to prevent HBV. You should get vaccinated for HBV if you were not vaccinated (3 doses) when you were younger.
Abstaining from sex and sexual contact is the surest way to avoid getting an STD. Using condoms every time reduces the risk of contracting STDs. If you or your partner tests positive, you should abstain from sex until the infection is gone.
If you are sexually active, using condoms consistently and correctly, from start to finish, is one of the best ways to help prevent STDs. Condoms are the ONLY method that protects sexually active people from both STDs and pregnancy.