Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis B virus is very common worldwide and is very infectious.

It can be spread in the following ways:
• Unprotected penetrative sex with infected person
• Sharing contaminated needles or any other contaminated drug injecting objects
• Using non-sterilized equipment for tattooing, acupuncture or body piercing
• During pregnancy from infected mother to child
• Through blood transfusion especially where blood is not tested for Hepatitis B virus before transfusion

 

Signs and symptoms
Some people may have no symptoms but still pass on the infection to other people. It is found in the blood, semen, vaginal fluids and saliva and it is the only STI that has a safe and effective vaccine to protect against infection. According to Ontario Ministry of Health, very few people die from the infection. For those with symptoms they include:
• Short mild flu-like illness
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Jaundice- characterized by yellowing of the skin and the white area of the eyes. Urine also becomes a darker yellow and pale faeces
• Itchy skin
• Tiredness
• Stomach discomfort
If a person remains infected for a long time they are likely to develop the following complications:
• Chronic hepatitis
• Liver cirrhosis

Liver cirrhosis caused by hepatitis B


• Liver cancer
A liver destroyed over time by the hepatitis virus and is now cancer infected.

 

Treatment
Hepatitis can be diagnosed through a blood test coupled by a number of questions from the health provider so as to try and trace the origin or source of infection. When you go to a health specialist and they tell you that you have a positive test result it means that you have been in contact with Hepatitis B virus and your body has rejected it meaning that you now have a natural immunity to the virus. On the other hand, a negative test result means that you have never come into contact with the virus and Have no natural immunity against it. In such a case if you have come into contact with the virus the health specialist may recommend that you get immunized against the infection. Usually, many people do not require treatment as the inflammation of the liver may not be severe. When it comes to immunization three injections are administered over a period of time. Once a person is done with all the injections a blood test is done to see if the injections worked. The immunity given should last for at least five years.

 

NB: If you are diagnosed with hepatitis B limit the amount of alcohol you drink

 

Prevention
• If you are sexually active use a condom for protection against either passing or receiving the infection
• Go for regular testing with your partner

 

References
Hepatitis B (HBV) (January 20009) c Over the Rainbow. NHS. Removed from: http://www.rainbowbournemouth.co.uk/hep_b.htm
Viral Hepatitis-Hepatitis B Information (2015 May 31) Centre for Disease Control. U.S Department for Health and Human Services. Removed from: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/
Hepatitis B. c 2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Removed from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-b/basics/definition/con-20022210
Hepatitis B. National Centre for Biotechnology Information, U.S National Library of Medicine. Removed from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022995/
Hepatitis B. Better Health Channel. c 2015 Department of Health and Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia. Removed from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/hepatitis-b
Hepatitis B. British Liver Trust. Removed from: http://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/liver-information/liver-conditions/hepatitis-b/