Hepatitis B

updated 2 weeks ago in HIV and STIs

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus, which can affect anyone.

Hepatitis A, B and C all affect the liver, but they are different infections with different causes.

How do you get hepatitis B?

You can get hepatitis B from contact with the blood, body fluids or semen (cum) of someone who has hepatitis B. This can include:

  • Vaginal, front hole or anal sex (topping or bottoming) without a condom
  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, injecting equipment, and tattooing or body piercing equipment
  • Having sexual contact with someone who has mouth ulcers, open sores/wounds or bleeding gums

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

Some guys will have no symptoms at all.

Symptoms can appear 1-6 months after exposure. These may include:

  • mild flu-like symptoms, possibly including a fever
  • constant tiredness or weakness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal pain, often on the right side under the ribs
  • joint and muscle pain
  • yellow skin and eyes (often called jaundice)
  • dark urine
  • pale faeces (shit)

How do I get tested for hepatitis B?

A hepatitis B test involves a blood test.

You can get tested at your regular doctor or sexual health service.

How is hepatitis B treated?

There is no medical treatment for hepatitis B, but it will usually clear on its own. It can take several weeks for symptoms to pass and most guys make a full recovery.

During this time, you should get lots of rest, avoid alcohol and drink lots of fluids. Maintaining a balanced diet and moderating your fat and salt intake will support your body to clear the virus.

Once you have cleared the virus, you will become immune to it and cannot get hepatitis B again.

A very small number of guys will not clear the virus and develop chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B. This is managed with antiviral medication, which can help prevent liver damage.

What are the best ways to prevent hepatitis B?

There is a vaccine for hepatitis B and also a combination hepatitis A and B vaccine. Talk to your doctor about the most suitable vaccine for you.

If you aren’t vaccinated, there are several ways you can protect yourself:

  • Use condoms during sex
  • Use gloves for fisting or heavy ass play
  • Avoid sharing sex toys and sterilise them thoroughly after use
  • Avoid sharing injecting equipment and tattooing or body piercing equipment
  • Avoid sharing personal items like toothbrushes and razors