Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver by the hepatitis B virus. It can be acute and self-resolving, or it can be chronic, leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer.The likelihood of developing CHB(Chronic Hepatitis B) is related to the age at which infection is acquired; the risk being lowest in adults and >90% in neonates whose mothers are hepatitis B antigen positive. The hepatitis B virus is a DNA virus, meaning that its genetic material is made up of deoxyribonucleic acids. It belongs to a family of viruses known as Hepadnaviridae. The virus is primarily found in the liver but is also present in the blood and certain body fluids.
There is no cure for HBV, but immunization can prevent initial infection. Antiviral medication can treat chronic infections.
HBV can cause infection and inflammation of the liver. A person can be infected and pass on the virus without knowing it.The hepatitis B virus reproduces in liver cells, but the virus itself is not the direct cause of damage to the liver. Rather, the presence of the virus triggers an immune response from the body as the body tries to eliminate the virus and recover from the infection. This immune response causes inflammation and may seriously injure liver calls. Therefore, there is a balance between the protective and destructive effects of the immune response to the hepatitis B virus.
Some individuals have no symptoms, some experience only the initial infection, but others remain chronically infected, as the virus continues to attack the liver over time without being detected. Irreversible liver damage can result.
However Symptoms of acute hepatitis may include:
Hepatitis B is caused by infection of the body with the hepatitis B virus.
In the United States, sexual contact is the most common means of transmission, followed by using contaminated needles for injecting illicit drugs, tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture. Additionally, hepatitis B can be transmitted through sharing toothbrushes and razors contaminated with infected fluids or blood. Hepatitis B also may be spread from infected mothers to their babies at birth (so-called ‘vertical’ transmission).
A blood test can diagnose acute and chronic HBV infection.
Screening is available for people who have a higher risk of HBV infection or complications due to undiagnosed HBV infection.
If a woman has HBV during pregnancy, the newborn must be vaccinated and receive hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) within 12 to 24 hours after birth.
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