What it is
Hepatitis B (or Hep B) is a very serious and incurable virus that causes inflammation of the liver. When your liver is malfunctioning you can feel very sick.
How you get it
Hepatitis B spreads through body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluids, blood, saliva and urine. Hep B can be passed on from mothers to their babies during childbirth and like most other STDs, hepatitis B is passed on through unprotected sex. And again, like so many other STDs, hepatitis B often has no symptoms at all – so you won't be able to tell if someone else has it. Because of this, it's vital that you use condoms at all times to protect yourself, not only from Hep B, but also from all other STDs.
There are often no symptoms at all, so most people are not aware that they have the infection. But if you are unusually tired there's a chance you could have Hep B so you should visit your doctor and get a blood test. You can also be on the look out for pain in the abdomen and dark urine in the later stages of Hep B.
There is no known cure, but Hep B can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine. It is recommended that all babies and adolescents be vaccinated against Hep B. The vaccine is free to babies and adolescents, so ask your doctor if you're eligible.
If you have not been vaccinated and have contracted Hep B, sometimes your body fights off the virus and the infection will go away on its own. Your doctor can give you advice about various strategies to help fight the virus.
The advice provided in this material is general in nature and is not intended as medical advice. If you need medical advice, please consult your health care professional.