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Sexual Conditions Health Center

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Hepatitis B

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Can a Pregnant Woman Give Hepatitis to her Baby?

Yes. A pregnant woman can spread the hepatitis B virus to her baby at the time of birth. (It is unlikely that an infected woman will spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy.)

Many babies infected with hepatitis B develop long-term liver problems. All newborn babies should be given the vaccine for hepatitis at birth and two additional booster injections during their first year of life.

How Can I Avoid Becoming Infected, or Infecting Others With Hepaitis B?

The best ways to try and avoid becoming infected with hepatitis B include:

  • Get vaccinated (if you have not already been infected).
  • Use condoms every time you have sex.
  • Wear gloves when touching or cleaning up body secretions on personal items, such as bandages/band aids, tampons, and linens.
  • Cover all open cuts or wounds.
  • Do not share razors, toothbrushes, manicuring tools, or pierced jewelry with anyone.
  • Do not share chewing gum or pre-chew food for a baby.
  • Make certain that any needles for drugs, piercing, or tattooing are properly sterilized.
  • Clean areas with blood on them with one part household bleach and 9 parts water.

Can I Catch Hepatitis B From Blood Transfusions?

The chance of catching hepatitis B from receiving blood transfusions is unlikely because donated blood is tested for the virus. Any infected blood is discarded.

Who Should Be Vaccinated for Hepatitis B?

All adults who are at risk for getting hepatitis B should also be vaccinated. This includes:

  • Everyone 18 years of age and younger, including all newborn babies.
  • People who may be exposed to infected blood or body fluids of friends or family members.
  • People who use needles to take recreational drugs.
  • All people who have sex with more than one person or with people who have hepatitis B.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • People with kidney or liver disease, or those with HIV.
  • Those under 60 with diabetes.
  • Health care providers who may come in contact with the virus.
  • People working in day care centers and institutions caring for children, the developmentally disabled and prisoners.
  • People who have hemodialysis (a procedure that cleans and filters the blood).
  • International travelers to areas where hepatitis B is widespread.
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