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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B (also called Hep B) is an STI that can cause liver failure. It is spread by having unprotected oral, anal and vaginal sex. There is no cure for hepatitis B but there is a vaccine, so talk to your nurse or doctor about getting vaccinated. Remember, even if you’re vaccinated, still practice safer sex – there are many other STIs you could catch by having unprotected or unsafe sex.

There are two stages of a hepatitis B infection. When a person is first infected, it is called an “acute” (short-term) infection. Many people will recover from this stage in a few months as their bodies build immunity to the virus and fight off the infection.

Those people whose bodies can’t fight off the infection develop “chronic” (long-term) hepatitis B. Hepatitis B becomes a chronic infection after six months. People with chronic hepatitis B are at higher risk for liver failure and liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is medication available to help manage chronic hepatitis. If you’re infected, talk to your nurse or doctor about what options are available to you. If a person has acute or chronic Hepatitis B they can transmit the infection through unprotected sexual contact.

Most people will show no signs of being infected with hepatitis B. For those that do show signs, they will likely experience “flu-like” symptoms, like tiredness, aching joints, stomach pain, loss of appetite and nausea. It may take 45 to 180 days after infection for symptoms to appear.

To protect yourself from hepatitis B, always use condoms and dental dams when you have sex and get tested if you change sex partners. Hepatitis B can be a serious infection, so help protect yourself and others by always having safer sex.