What is it?
Hepatitis B is an infection which affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Who has it?
Hepatitis B infects nearly 1.25 million people in the US, but is increasingly less common among young people due to the existence of the hepatitis B vaccine.
How do you get it?
You can get hepatitis B by coming into contact with body fluids from an infected person — like semen, blood, and vaginal fluids — during unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can even get hepatitis B by sharing razors, toothbrushes, needles, or nail clippers with someone who is infected with the virus.
How do you know you have it?
Many people have no symptoms at all. Some symptoms of hepatitis B include:
-Loss of appetite
-Light or gray stools
-Dark or brown urine
-Stomach, muscle or joint pain
-Yellowing of the skin or eyes
How do you test for it?
To find out if you have hepatitis B your health care provider can perform a simple blood test.
Can you get rid of it?
For some people, hepatitis B will stay with them for the rest of their lives, while for others it will go away all on its own. There is no cure for hepatitis B, but there is medication to help the liver of those with hepatitis.
How do you keep from getting it?
There is a hepatitis B vaccine, which is the best way to avoid infection. Let your medical provider know if you haven’t received the hepatitis B vaccine.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Chronic hepatitis may cause cancer, liver damage, or death, and increases your chances of getting HIV. Whether or not you show symptoms, if you have hepatitis B you can still pass it to your partners.
For STD testing, contact your local family planning clinic.
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