You can protect yourself against hepatitis B infection by avoiding contact
with the body fluids of someone whose health and sexual history aren't known
to you. To prevent infection:
- Use a condom when you have sex.
not share needles.
- Do not share toothbrushes or
- Wear latex or plastic gloves if you have to touch
- Don't get a tattoo unless you are sure the needles have been cleaned properly and are sterile.
Hepatitis B vaccine
hepatitis B vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection. The
vaccine is up to 95% effective against hepatitis B if you receive all the
shots in the vaccination series (3 or 4 shots given at different times).2
The vaccine provides protection against infection for at
least 20 years.3 A
combination vaccine for hepatitis A and B also is
Vaccination is recommended for certain groups of people(What is a PDF document?), such as health professionals, people who have more than one sex partner, and people who have certain illnesses.
Discuss vaccination with your
doctor even if you aren't in one of the recommended groups.
In the United States, about 15 out of 100 of those who become infected don't
know how they got infected.4
cases, a doctor will order
postvaccination testing to make sure you have
developed immunity to the virus. People who need this testing
include those who have an
impaired immune system or those who are health care
workers or sex partners of people who have chronic
If you are exposed to the virus before you have
received all of the shots in the vaccination series, you may be given a dose of
hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) soon afterward. In
most cases, this will prevent infection until the vaccine takes effect.
If you have had sex with someone who has hepatitis B and you haven't
received all doses of the hepatitis B vaccine, you should receive a shot of
HBIG—in addition to continuing the vaccine series—within 14 days of being
exposed to the virus.
Avoiding spreading the virus if you have it
If you are
already infected, you can take steps to
prevent spreading the virus to others. This includes not
donating blood and not sharing razors or other toiletries.
For more information on prevention, see: