Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B (HBV) is a virus that infects and can damage the liver. It is passed from one person to another when the blood or sexual fluids of an HBV infected person gets into another persons blood stream through openings in the skin (punctures, cuts, sores) or through the mucosal membranes (nose, genitals). Hepatitis B can live outside of the body for several days. 

Hepatitis B sometimes becomes a chronic or life-long infection. If a person has a fully developed and strong immune system they can often fight off Hepatitis B during the first few months of infection and then they become immune for life.

If a person has an un-developed immune system (such as a baby or small child) or a weak immune system (such as someone who has HIV or cancer) they may have trouble fighting off Hepatitis B and may develop chronic or life-long infection.

Chronic Hepatitis B can cause serious liver damage, can cause the liver to shut down, and increases the risk for developing liver cancer. There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B.

If you are pregnant, or thinking about having a baby,
learn about Hepatitis B and Pregnancy

How do you get Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is transmitted, or passed from one person to another, through blood or sex. You can get Hepatitis B through unprotected sex or by sharing needles or other drug equipment. Infants infected by their HBV+ mothers during childbirth are at the highest risk for developing chronic infection.

How do you prevent Hepatitis B?

  • Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine
  • Don't share needles, syringes, cotton, rinse water, cookers, spoons, straws or pipes or any other drug use supplies. You can get clean needles at many locations in NYC.
  • Don't share or reuse medical supplies (diabetic needles, finger stick devices, etc.)
  • Safer sex: avoid sexual activity that involves the possibility of blood exposure and use condoms. You can get free NYC condoms.
  • Do not share personal items (razors, clippers, toothbrushes, etc.) that could have blood on them.
  • Only get tattoo and piercings in a licensed business and be sure that new sterile equipment is used. For more info on safer Body Art, see: Hepatitis & Tattoos
  • Clean blood spills immediately with 1 part bleach and 10 parts water.

Hepatitis B: The Facts  (PDF)
Other languages: [Español] [中文] [Français] [한국어] [Русский]

Be Certain: Get Tested for Hepatitis B campaign YouTube video

The campaign consists of a 30 second public service announcement to encourage Hepatitis B screening in the Chinese and Korean communities in NYC:

More Hepatitis Info