Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted from person to person through sexual contact, shared needles and needle-sharing equipment known as “works,” health care/occupational exposure and exposure to infected blood through a cut or break in the skin. HBV is found in semen, vaginal secretions and blood. HBV is approximately 100 times easier to get than HIV, although both viruses are found in similar body fluids. HBV can also be passed to a baby during pregnancy or delivery.
Six to twenty five weeks although average is eight to twelve weeks.
Many infected people have no symptoms (especially young children). Some people have mild flu-like symptoms, dark urine, light stools, jaundice, fatigue, and fever.
This is no cure for HBV. Most persons will recover without medical treatment. There is treatment available for persons who are unable to clear HBV on their own. A balanced diet and exercise are also helpful in fighting the infection. Refraining from alcohol is critical. The combination of alcohol and HBV accelerates the progression of liver disease.
Avoid unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex and sharing needles and "works." Do not share personal items which may be contaminated with body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions) known to contain the virus (i.e. razors and toothbrushes). A safe and effective vaccine is available for HBV.
The virus causes liver cell damage and inflammation possibly leading to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer and ultimately liver failure.
Most adults will recover from HBV within six months and will be immune to HBV in the future. Children, especially infants, are more likely to develop chronic HBV.