Hepatitis B is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis B virus. Hep B virus is usually spread when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.
It can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer. It can be fatal if it isn’t treated. It’s spread when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the hep B virus.
It is important to note that hep B is not spread casually i.e. by coughing, sneezing, hugging, cooking and sharing food. It is spread through direct contact with infected blood and bodily fluids.
The good news is that most cases of the disease don’t last a long time. Your body fights it off within a few months, and you’re immune for the rest of your life. That means you can’t get it again.
The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated. The World Health Organization recommends at least 3 doses of hep B vaccine for all infants with the first dose given within 24 hours of birth followed by 2 or 3 additional doses later.
Tips to protect yourself from hepatitis B infection until vaccination.
You can take the following steps to prevent Hepatitis B infection. These include;
- Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after any potential exposure to blood and bodily fluids.
- If you are an injection drug user and share equipment, cleaning your syringes with bleach will not help you avoid hepatitis B. It’s always best to use new needles, syringes and other drug-related articles to prevent the risk of Hepatitis B infection.
- Don’t share items that may have been contaminated with body fluids and blood. For example; toothbrushes, razors or needles used for body piercing, tattooing or acupuncture. Note that hep B may survive outside the body for up to seven days.
- Using a condom or another type of latex barrier while having sex.
- Throw away personal items such as tissues, menstrual pads, tampons and bandages in a sealed plastic bag.
- Clean up blood spills with a fresh diluted bleach solution (mix 1 part bleach with 9 parts water)
- Cover all cuts carefully.
- Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass the virus to their infants during birth. This can be prevented through a series of vaccinations and Hep B Immunoglobulin for their babies at birth.