Understanding Hepatitis B (HBV)

Healthcare provider preparing to take blood from woman’s arm.Hepatitis is a redness and swelling (inflammation) of the liver. Certain viruses can cause hepatitis. One is the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B can lead to serious liver damage.

How is HBV diagnosed?

HBV can be diagnosed with a blood test. It some cases, HBV may cause symptoms. These may include the following:

  • Pain in the upper right part of your belly

  • Flulike symptoms (tiredness, weakness, headache, sore muscles and joints)

  • Upset stomach (nausea), vomiting, diarrhea

  • Yellowed skin or eyes, swollen belly, light stools, dark urine (jaundice)

  • Liver stops working (liver failure)

Preventing the spread

A vaccine may prevent hepatitis B in people who don’t yet have it. Ask any sex partners and anyone who lives with you to get tested and vaccinated. If you have hepatitis B, follow these rules so you don’t give the virus to others.


  • Use condoms each time you have sex. And let your partner know you have hepatitis.

  • Cover all skin breaks and sores. If someone helps you, have them wear protective gloves.


  • Don’t donate blood, plasma, sperm, or body organs or tissue.

  • Don’t share needles, syringes, straws, or any other drug equipment.

  • Don’t share razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, blood glucose monitors, eating utensils, or other personal items.

  • Don’t get tattoos or body piercings from businesses that don’t have a license. And don’t get them done in informal settings.