Hepatitis B (HBV) Miami Center

Transmission and Symptoms

Hepatitis B (HBV)?

Hepatitis B (HBV) is a viral infection that targets the liver. It is known as a silent infection because people transmit the virus to their others because they are asymptomatic and do not realize that they are ill.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is swelling that happens when tissues of the body are injured or infected. It can damage your liver. This swelling and damage can affect how well your liver functions.  Hepatitis can be an acute (short-term) infection or a chronic (long-term) infection. Some types of hepatitis cause only acute infections.

Other types can cause both acute and chronic infections. There are different types of hepatitis, with different causes:  Viral hepatitis is the most common type. It is caused by one of several viruses -- hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E. In the United States, A, B, and C are the most common. To learn more about Hepatitis B click here.

Testing is the only way to know if you are infected with hepatitis B. Of those infected with HBV, only around 1% will develop a life-threatening condition known as fulminant hepatitis. This condition results in liver failure and death. As fulminant hepatitis develops suddenly, urgent medical attention is necessary.

HBV is transmitted through activities that involve percutaneous puncture through the skin or mucosal contact with infectious bodily fluids. Unprotected sex or injection drug usage habits, such as sharing needles or syringes, are the most common ways to contract the infection.

Other ways to contract HBV include an infected mother passing it on to her baby or coming into contact with blood or open sores of an infected individual. It is important to heed caution to external surfaces as the virus is capable to live outside of the body and remain contagious for at least seven days.

As mentioned, in the early stages, individuals with hepatitis B can be asymptomatic. If symptoms do occur, they usually occur between 60 to 150 days after exposure.

Some symptoms of acute liver infections include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain - bloated or swollen stomach
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Clay-colored bowel movement
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the eyes or skin

Acute hepatitis B infections can resolve on their own. Sometimes chronic hepatitis B infections occur. Some individuals can develop chronic hepatitis B infections that increase the chances of liver failure and cirrhosis of the liver, or hepatocellular carcinoma, which permanently scar and damage the liver, and are life-threatening.

People with acute hepatitis usually are not prescribed medications.  Individuals suffering from chronic hepatitis B can take antiviral medications and regularly monitor the liver for damage or hepatocellular carcinoma. Treatment is at least one year with lamivudine and adefovir. Longer duration treatment is needed for most patients.

Can someone be completely cured of hepatitis B?

There is no cure for hepatitis B. However, there are various treatments that can lower the risk of long-term health problems, as well as manage symptoms of the infection.  It is advised that those with hepatitis B get a blood test every six months or so to monitor the amount of virus in their system and the health of their liver.

Hepatitis B Common Questions

The effects of hepatitis A, B, and C are similar. You might have:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Discomfort in your belly
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (called jaundice)
You get it by eating or drinking something that has the virus in it.

You get it when blood from someone who is infected gets into your body. For instance, you can catch it if you share needle. You can also get hepatitis B if you have sex without using a condom with someone who has got it.

If you are pregnant and you have hepatitis B, you could pass it to your child during birth.

Like hepatitis B, you get this type when the blood of someone who is infected enters your body. This can happen through sharing needles. An infected mother can also give the disease to her newborn child during birth.

Exposed To HIV?

Contact us today to begin PEP treatment. The sooner you begin treatment after exposure the better chance you will not contract HIV. Every hour counts!


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