Hepatitis B

What is a Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis BHepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis B virus and is one of the viruses that can cause inflammation of the liver. When the hepatitis B virus enters the body it travels to the liver via the bloodstream. In the liver, the virus attaches to healthy liver cells and multiplies.


Hepatitis B is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world and is a serious public health problem. In Australia, it is estimated between 90,000 and 160,000 people are chronically infected with hepatitis B.

Source: National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). Available from: URL: http:www9.health.gov.au/cda/Source/CDAindex.cfm.

How is it transmitted?

Hepatitis B lives in blood, semen and vaginal fluids.

It is transmitted by:

  • Unprotected anal, vaginal and oral sexual activity
  • Sharing needles and syringes
  • The use of non-sterile tattooing and body piercing equipment
  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors or other personal items that may pass blood from one person to another
  • A woman with hepatitis B can pass the virus onto her baby during birth
  • Any form of blood-contaminated injury



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