Hepatitis B is spread by blood-to-blood contact. It may also be present in other body fluids such as saliva, semen and vaginal fluid, particularly if these have become contaminated with blood. Drug users who share needles are at high risk.
Two billion people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and more than 350 million have chronic (lifelong) infections. In the UK, approximately one in 1000 people are thought to have the virus; in areas with a high percentage of people from parts of the world where the virus is common, as many as one in 50 pregnant women may be infected.
Since 1982, hepatitis B has been preventable with safe and effective vaccines.
About 30% of infected people have no signs or symptoms, and signs and symptoms are less common in children than adults.
Signs and symptoms include:
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- joint pain.