War Related Illness and Injury Study Center
Hepatitis B is one type of hepatitis - a liver disease- caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B spreads by contact with an infected person's blood, semen or other body fluid.
Risk factors for Hepatitis B include:
- Contact with blood borne products
- Exposure to blood contaminated needles
- Using intravenous drugs
- Getting tattoos in a facility that does not use sterile techniques
- Engaging in unprotected sex with an individual who has Hepatitis B
If you get Hepatitis B, you may feel as if you have the flu, or you may have no symptoms at all. A blood test can be used to diagnose Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B usually gets better on its own after a few months. If it does not get better, it is called chronic Hepatitis B, which lasts a lifetime. Chronic Hepatitis B can lead to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer.
You can help protect yourself against Hepatitis B by:
- Getting the HBV vaccine which all service members should receive
- Not engaging in unprotected sex
- Avoiding illicit injectable drugs
- Avoiding contaminated needles
- Wearing protective clothing if in contact with blood or other bodily fluids.