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What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a virus that can permanently damage your liver and is a leading cause of liver cancer. There is no cure for hepatitis B, and it can sometimes lead to death. Most people get better, but about 1 out of 10 will carry the virus for life and spread it to others.
What are the signs and symptoms:
At first, most people have no symptoms, but those who do can have:
- Weakness or tiredness
- Poor appetite
- Dark urine
- Stomach pains
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
Many years later, people can experience:
- Chronic liver disease such as cirrhosis or cancer
How is it spread?
Hepatitis B is spread:
- By sharing used needles or syringes.
- By sharing other drug-using equipment such as cookers, cotton, crack cocaine and water pipes.
- By sharing straw, bills or other utensils used for snorting cocaine or other drugs.
- Through needle-stick injuries.
- From tattooing, piercing or acupuncture with equipment that may have been improperly sterilized.
- From unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
- If a pregnant woman has Hepatitis B she can infect her unborn baby.
- By sharing razors, toothbrushes, tweezers, manicure or pedicure equipment such as nail clippers.
You cannot get hepatitis B from casual contact such as hugging or from using the same dishes as an infected person. It’s not passed on when someone with hepatitis B coughs or sneezes.
Here are some ways to prevent hepatitis B:
- Get the hepatitis B vaccine.
- Do not share needles or other drug equipment.
- Do not share personal items such as razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers.
- Wear protective gloves if you’re likely to be in contact with someone’s blood or body fluids.
- Use condoms every time you have sex.
- If you’re getting a tattoo or piercing, making sure the place has been inspected and they’re using single-use sterile needles and ink.
Where can I get tested?
- Sexual Health Clinic
- Family doctor
- Walk-in clinic