How common is Chronic Hepatitis B?
- Chronic Hepatitis B is known to be a global problem.
- More than 250 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B virus.
- Chronic infection causes more than 650 000 deaths each year.
How likely is it that acute Hepatitis B will become chronic?
- The likelihood depends on the age at which a person becomes infected.
- The younger a person is when they are infected with Hepatitis B virus, the greater the chance that the infection will become chronic.
- Approximately 90% of infants who are infected around the time of birth will develop chronic infection.
- The risk decreases as you get older, dropping to around 5% if you are infected as an adult.
How is Hepatitis B spread?
Hepatitis B virus is spread when blood, semen or other body fluids infected with the virus, enters the body of an uninfected person. Potentially hazardous activities include:
- Having unprotected sex with an infected partner.
- During birth. (When the virus spreads from the mother to her baby.)
- Exposure to blood through needle sticks or other injuries caused by sharp instruments.
- Sharing drug-injection equipment such as: needles and syringes. (Including sharing infected needles for acupuncture, piercings and tattooing.)
- Sharing items such as toothbrushes or razors with an infected person.
- Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person.
- The majority of adults who are infected with Hepatitis B virus will develop symptoms, while the majority of young children do not.