Hepatitis B guide
Hepatitis B risk factors
How do people get infected with hepatitis B?
Anyone can get hepatitis B...usually through sexual activity. The most common risk factors are:
- A history of STDs, especially HIV
- A history of unprotected sex
- A new sexual partner
- Multiple sexual partners
- Men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Healthcare workers exposed to blood
- Hemophiliacs (people affected by a hereditary bleeding disorder)
- Intravenous (IV) drug use and sharing needles
People who are from – or travel to – China, southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are also at a higher risk for hepatitis B. If you have the virus, don't share needles, syringes, razorblades or toothbrushes. Use a latex condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex, and use a condom or dental dam if you have oral sex.
What are some ways that hepatitis B cannot be spread?
Hepatitis B cannot be passed through food, drinking from someone's water bottle, eating utensils, sneezing, kissing, holding hands or breastfeeding.
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Last reviewed by Lisa Oldson, MD, January 2011.
Lisa Oldson, MD
"The first thing I tell a patient about STDs is that if you're worried about one STD, you should probably worry about all STDs. In other words, if you had unprotected sex and you're worried about a possible HIV exposure, it's important to understand that hepatitis can be spread in the same fashion...ditto for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis."