WHAT IS IT?
Hepatitis B (Hep B) is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). Acute Hepatitis B illness is short-term and occurs within 6 months after being exposed to the HBV. Acute Hepatitis B can lead to Chronic Hepatitis B infection. This is a long-term illness that occurs when the HBV remains in a person’s body.
Hep B is spread when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the HBV enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles or other drug injection equipment; sharing personal items such as razors or glucose monitors, or from mother to baby at birth.
The risk for chronic infection is related to age when getting acute hepatitis. 90% of infected infants will develop chronic hepatitis; 25% to 50% of infected children ages 1 to 5 years will develop chronic hepatitis; 6% to 10% of infected children over the age of 5 will develop chronic hepatitis; and 2% to 6% of infected adults will develop chronic hepatitis. Up to 1.4 million people in the United States have chronic Hep B. 2,000 to 4,000 people in the United States die each year from hepatitis B and its complications.