Hepatitis B is an acute infection which can be transmitted sexually. It is a highly infectious virus that is passed on through blood contact, but can continue to live at room temperature for four days, unlike the HIV virus which cannot live outside the body for more than a few seconds.
It is possible to have Hepatitis B and have no symptoms, but most people go through an acute stage during which time they can infect other people, and may feel unwell. Most people will make a full recovery, and after this they will be immune to Hepatitis B in the future.
Around 20% of people will go on to develop more serious complications, usually relating to the liver, and can go on to develop cancer of the liver.
It is therefore really important that you know your Hepatitis B status, as even if you do not have symptoms, you may cause liver cancer in someone else.
There is a reliable vaccine for Hepatitis B, which anyone who has unprotected sex, or has regular contact with blood (all our laboratory staff have had the vaccine for example) should have. You need three doses of the vaccine to build your immunity, and afterwards you should have a blood test to check whether the vaccine has worked. This is really important so that you know what to do if you are exposed.
Better2Know can hep you with your Hepatitis B Test (which is available on its own, or in our Early Detection, Full and Platinum Screens) and with Hepatitis B vaccines.