Learn About Hepatitis B and Whether You’re at Risk
Hepatitis B is the most common bloodborne
infection in the world and the #1 cause of liver cancer worldwide . Yet many people
are still unaware of what it is, how it is transmitted, and whether it
can be treated. Keep reading to learn more.
Most people who have it don’t know it
Only 1 out of 3 who have hepatitis B are aware because they haven’t
been tested for it. Most people with hepatitis B have no symptoms. The
only way to know is to get a simple blood test.
The earlier you get diagnosed, the sooner you can get care preventing cirrhosis
and liver cancer.
How is Hep B transmitted?
Hepatitis B is transmitted via blood, and mother to child transmission through
childbirth is the most common route of transmission worldwide. Therefore, before
leaving the hospital, vaccinating newborn babies with hepatitis B is very
It can also be transmitted through infected needles, unprotected sex with
an infected person or contact of infected blood (open wounds, sharing
razors, and toothbrushes, for example).
However, it is not transmitted through casual contact like the common cold,
such as hugging, kissing, sneezing/coughing, or sharing a meal.
While Many People Can Fight the Virus, It Can Become Chronic
Studies and statistics show a direct correlation between how young the
person is when they are exposed to the virus and how likely the infection
will be chronic. Infants infected will most likely develop a chronic infection
(90%), whereas adults with intact immune systems will more likely be able
to fight it off (10% will be chronic). Chronic infections can last a lifetime
and it is the ongoing inflammation that can lead to cirrhosis and
People with Hepatitis B Can Lead Healthy Lives
The great news is we know how to take care of people with hepatitis B to
prevent liver cancer. If you have hepatitis B, you should see your doctor
regularly to get blood tests to monitor your viral load and liver status.
If there are signs of inflammation, your doctor can begin taking antiviral
medications to prevent further inflammation. You should also be evaluated
for liver cancer screening with an ultrasound. The Center for Asian Health
provides comprehensive care for people with hepatitis B.
You Can Protect Yourself from Hepatitis B
If you’re worried about the potential of contracting Hepatitis B,
there is a simple and easy solution. If you are tested and not found to
be immune already, you should be vaccinated. The HBV vaccine is 95% effective
in preventing infection. Hepatitis vaccine shots over the course a few
months will provide a lifetime of protection. Considering that young people
are the most at risk for chronic Hepatitis B symptoms, the incentive for
vaccination is strong. The hepatitis B vaccine has been part of the US
childhood vaccines series since 1991, but if you were born before then,
there’s a good chance you haven’t been vaccinated!
Free Hepatitis B Tests in New Jersey
Saint Barnabas Medical Center is providing free hepatitis B testing for
a limited time. You can walk into any Saint Barnabas Medical Lab for a
free test- just download the coupon at LiverBWell.com or call the
Center for Asian Health at 973-261-9077 to schedule a time to be tested at our office.