Term: Hepatitis B

Glossary Definition

Last Updated: 2012-12-03


A sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which can be transmitted through sexual contact and exposure to or exchange of bodily fluids, including blood and saliva of an infected person. Symptoms of HBV infection can include jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, dark urine, pale stools, joint pain and pain in the stomach area. The majority of infected individuals (90%) develop a protection against the virus, while about 10% become chronic carriers of the virus. Approximately 50% of hepatitis B virus carriers do not show any symptoms. Prolonged exposure to this virus may have serious health implications, including scarring of the liver or liver cancer. A newborn may contract HBV from an infected mother at birth. HBV is 100 times more infectious than the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Unlike other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination. Various medications are available to treat HBV.

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada Web Site - Hepatitis B - Get the Facts - accessed August 3, 2012.

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