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HBV Transmission and Prevention
The most common ways that people get or become infected with hepatitis B are:
• Having sex with someone who has the hepatitis B virus
• An HBV-infected mother can transmit HBV to her baby during birth
• Sharing needles or works used to inject drugs that are infected with HBV
• Health care workers may be exposed to the virus through a needle stick or by not wearing gloves
• Sharing personal items such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, and earrings
Hygiene Items and HBV
Many people are very worried about getting or giving HBV to others that they live with. Things like razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers and other personal hygiene items can spread HBV so it is important to make sure that no one uses your hygiene items.
Mother to Child Transmission
There is about a 90% (9 out of 10) chance that a baby born to a mother who is infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV for short) will get chronic or long-term HBV infection. Once a baby has developed chronic HBV infection there is a real chance that it could lead to serious health problems in the future.
Hepatitis B is a virus that lives in blood. If you share any needles or works (cookers, cottons, ties, water, etc.), you should be tested and if you do not have HBV – get vaccinated. People who work at needle exchanges are there to help you stay healthy by giving you equipment and information about how to inject safely.
Piercings and HBV
There is a chance that a person could get hepatitis B while having a piercing if safety practices are not followed very carefully. While it is considered a low risk, if you had a piercing in any setting where safety precautions were not followed carefully – for instance, from a friend or on the street – it might be a good idea to get tested for HBV.
Gay Men, Sex & HBV
Gay men or men who have sex with men are at higher risk of getting HBV than other groups in the United States. The best protection against HBV is to get the HBV vaccine if you have not been previously infected.
Hepatitis B and Tattoos
There is a very real chance that you could get hepatitis B while being tattooed if safety practices are not followed very carefully. The risk is much higher if you get a tattoo in prison or on the streets because there is usually less attention to safety. If you have received a tattoo in a place that does not follow proper safety measures, it might be a good idea to get tested for hepatitis B and C because there is a greater risk of transmitting them in unsafe settings.
Sex and Hepatitis B
In the U.S. the most common way people get hepatitis B (HBV for short) is from having sex with someone who has HBV. HBV is in blood and it is also found in semen, vaginal fluids, and menstrual blood. All types of sex (oral, anal, vaginal sex) can transmit HBV. The HBV vaccine is the best way to protect you and others from getting HBV. Other ways to prevent sexual transmission of HBV is to use condoms or rubbers for oral sex on men as well as for vaginal or anal sex.