Comments for consumers
This page/column contains information which may be of interest to consumers. The information is based on articles which appear in Australian Prescriber. As Australian Prescriber is written for health professionals, you should discuss any issues raised by this page/column with your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to give a more detailed answer to your questions by reading the main article.
Australian Prescriber is unable to comment on individual cases or give second opinions.
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that infects the liver. The disease is spread through contact with blood or body fluids containing the virus, and from mother to baby during childbirth. Hepatitis B can also be spread by using contaminated needles, and by unprotected sex. Many people in Australia with hepatitis B have come from countries where the disease is more common such as China, South East Asia and Africa.
When people first become infected, they may develop jaundice and feel nauseous and tired. However, there are often no symptoms and people may not know they are infected.
There are different phases of the infection with the most serious being life-threatening liver disease. Medicines can help to reduce liver damage caused by the virus so it is important for all people with hepatitis B to have regular medical check-ups. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B which protects people against becoming infected.