Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids.
It does not spread by sneezing or coughing. Rather, nine common ways that HBV can spread are:
1. Sexual contact. You may get hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected. The virus can pass to you if the person’s blood, saliva, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body.
2. Sharing of needles. HBV easily spreads through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing IV drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of hepatitis B.
3. Accidental needle sticks. Hepatitis B is a concern for health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood.
4. Mother to child. Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass the virus to their babies during childbirth. However, the newborn can be vaccinated to avoid getting infected in almost all cases. Talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis B if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
5. If you have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who is infected with HBV
6. Men who have sex with other men (gay) risk hepatitis infection.
7. If you live with someone who has a chronic HBV infection, you risk being infected.
8. If you have a job that exposes you to human blood, such as laboratory workers, doctors, nurses, etc., you are at risk of hepatitis infection.
9. If you travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV, such as Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Eastern Europe, you risk contacting the disease.