Symptoms of infection with
hepatitis B virus (HBV), if they appear at all,
usually begin 60 to 90 days (although they can appear from 45 to 180 days)
after the virus enters the body.
Most people have acute
(short-term) HBV infection. In this infection:
- Most people start to feel better after 2 to 3
weeks and recover completely after 4 to 8 weeks. They develop
antibodies against a type of HBV
antigen that provide lifelong protection against
- Only a few people (particularly older adults)
have long-lasting symptoms.
- A small number of people have symptoms
that last for months. They may have signs of abnormal liver function before
they completely recover from the acute infection.
About 1 or 2 out of 10 people with acute HBV infection
develop joint pain and rashes.1 In rare cases, HBV
hives; swelling of the lips, tongue, or other tissue;
swelling of the voice box (larynx); or pain in the abdomen.
stay infected with HBV for 6 months or longer, you have chronic hepatitis B.
The risk of having chronic HBV infection is related to the age at which you
first become infected with the virus.2
- Up to 90% of children who are infected at birth
develop chronic HBV infection.
- About 30% of children who are
infected after birth between the ages of 1 and 5 develop chronic
- About 6% of infected older children, adolescents, and
adults develop chronic infection.
About 1.2 million Americans have
chronic HBV infection.2 Most
people with chronic infection have no symptoms. But they can spread the virus
to others (especially to people who live with them and to their sex partners)
unless they receive treatment that controls the infection.
many people with chronic hepatitis B will not develop complications, about 15%
to 25% of people with chronic HBV infection will die of
liver cancer.3 Having a lot
of virus in the body (a high viral load) increases the risk of developing
cirrhosis and liver cancer.
- You are more likely to develop cirrhosis if you
carry a specific hepatitis B antigen (called the HBe antigen), are older than
40, and have elevated liver enzymes. For more information on cirrhosis, see the
- Risk factors for developing
liver cancer after chronic HBV infection include being male, having a family
history of liver cancer, being over 40 years old, having cirrhosis, and also
Other problems that can develop in relation to HBV
infection but are uncommon include:
People with hepatitis B who engage in high-risk behavior
(such as having multiple sex partners or injecting illegal drugs) are at
increased risk for hepatitis C and
HIV, the virus that causes