The scary truth is that Hepatitis B (HBV) can go undetected for years. Hepatitis B is an infection caused by a virus that is transmitted through sex or sharing equipment to use drugs. The hepatitis B virus infects the liver and can go unnoticed because symptoms are not always apparent.
Most people will recover from the infection on their own, while some will develop a chronic infection. Treatment for HBV can help ease symptoms and keep the chronic infection under control.
There are many ways you can lower your chances of getting or passing HBV, such as getting vaccinated.
What is Hepatitis B (HBV)?
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus. A person who has HBV can pass it onto someone else during sex, through household contact, or sharing dirty needles with someone who has HBV.
Many people will show no signs or symptoms of the virus, therefore not knowing that they have it. If symptoms do occur, they can take 2 to 3 months to appear.
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Dark urine
Most adults will recover from an acute HBV infection without any form of treatment. However, if the virus has been in the blood for 6 months or longer, then is is considered a chronic (permanent) hepatitis b infection.
How Could I Contract Hepatitis B?
HBV is most commonly passed through sex without a condom; meaning vaginal or anal intercourse. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting the hepatitis B virus. Other potential ways of contracting HBV include:
- Sharing needles to do drugs
- Sharing of sex toys or through fingering
Infected blood on:
- Toothbrushes, razors or nail files shared between infected household members
- Improperly sterilized tools for tattooing, body piercings or acupuncture
- From healthcare professionals improper handling of equipment
Hepatitis B and HIV
For people that have been diagnosed with HIV, untreated hepatitis B can result in serious liver-related issues. Since HIV and HBV share the same transmission routes, if you have HBV you are at greater risk of contracting HIV.
So what can you do about it?
The most effective way to prevent infection is to get the vaccine. This is especially important for people who have been diagnosed HIV.
Lower the chance of contracting:
- Use condoms during vaginal or anal intercourse
- Use condoms on sex toys
Lower the chance of passing HBV:
- Not sharing syringes or other drug equipment
- Not sharing personal items that could have come into contact with bodily fluids or blood like toothbrushes, floss, nail clippers and feminine hygiene products
The bottom line.
The only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis B is to get tested. With myLAB Box you can test privately and discreetly in your home.
If you are worried you may have contracted HBV it’s a good idea to get tested for other STDs as well.
Acute hepatitis B infections aren’t typically treated with medication. The infection usually clears on its own, and most people’s bodies develop an immunity to prevent future hepatitis B infections.
However, chronic hepatitis B infections are treated with antiviral medications. These medications help to keep the disease in remission which lowers the chances of liver cancer.
If you or your partner are showing symptoms or believe you have been exposed to HBV, the smartest thing to do is order an at home test kit.