What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus interferes with the functions of the liver and causes pathological damage. A small percentage of infected people cannot get rid of the virus and become chronically infected – these people are at higher risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
How do you get hepatitis B?
HBV is spread by contact with blood or body fluids of an infected person – the same way as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, HBV is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV.
The main ways of getting infected with HBV are:
-from mother to baby at the birth (perinatal)
-unsafe injections and transfusions
-unprotected sexual contact
How can I protect myself?
You can protect yourself against hepatitis B by being vaccinated. The hepatitis B vaccine has an outstanding record of safety and effectiveness, and since 1982, over 1 billion doses have been used worldwide. The vaccine is 95% effective in preventing chronic infections from developing.