Hepatitis B is a liver infection that occurs due to the hepatitis B virus. A person can acquire the virus through blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. As such, it is possible for a person to get the viral infection through sexual contact.
Hepatitis is a term that describes liver inflammation. Typically, hepatitis may occur due to viral infections, such as the hepatitis B virus (HBV). In addition to HBV, there are also other types of viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis A (HAV) and hepatitis C (HCV).
Among the different forms of hepatitis, the Hepatitis B Foundation notes that hepatitis B is the most common cause of chronic liver infections. The
- affects about 296 million people, including 6 million children under the age of 5
- contributes to roughly 820,000 deaths per year
- progresses to liver cancer in 25% of cases
In this article, we explore how a person can acquire hepatitis B sexually.
Yes, a person
In the body, HBV travels to the liver where it multiplies, integrates, and can continue producing new viral HBV particles. From here, the virus is able to pass into the bloodstream and other bodily fluids.
Other ways of acquiring hepatitis B
The CDC notes that in addition to hepatitis B, a person
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious, short-term liver infection that HAV causes. According to health experts, the transmission of the hepatitis A virus can occur from any form of sexual activity with a person with an HAV infection. However, people mostly acquire hepatitis A through fecal-oral contact.
Individuals who may be at a higher risk for hepatitis A
- men who have sex with men (MSM)
- international travelers
- those who use or inject drugs
- people with an occupational risk for exposure
- those experiencing homelessness
Similar to other forms of hepatitis infections, hepatitis C occurs due to an infection with the corresponding HCV. Although not common, a person
A person typically develops hepatitis C after encountering blood that contains HCV. In addition to sexual contact, this can occur
- sharing drug-injection equipment
- healthcare exposure
- unregulated tattoos or piercings
- sharing personal items
Prior to 1992, HCV was commonly transmitted through blood transfusions and organ transplants. With increased and improved safety and screening guidelines, the transmission risk via these medical procedures is very minimal, according to the
Hepatitis B can be asymptomatic. This means that some people with a recent infection may not have any symptoms. However, symptoms a person may experience can include:
- stomach pain
- joint pain
- dark urine
- fever or high temperature
To diagnose hepatitis B, a doctor may order the following tests:
Hepatitis B surface antigen test
A hepatitis B surface antigen test can detect if a person has an active infection. A positive test result means that a person has hepatitis B and can transmit the virus to others. A negative test result means that a person may not have hepatitis B, but further testing is necessary.
Hepatitis B core antibody test
The hepatitis B core antigen test can detect a past or current hepatitis B infection. A positive result usually means a person has acute or chronic hepatitis B. It may also mean a person is recovering from acute hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B surface antibody test
A hepatitis B surface antibody test can check a person’s immunity to hepatitis B. A positive test may mean that a person is immune to hepatitis B. It may also mean that a person recently recovered from the condition.
- sexually active people with more than one sex partner during the previous 6 months
- people seeking evaluation or treatment for an STI
- sex partners of people with hepatitis B
- men who have sex with men (MSM)
A person can acquire hepatitis B through sexual contact. The liver infection occurs due to the hepatitis B virus, and people can develop the infection after encountering bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids, that contain the virus.
As a person can acquire HBV by encountering bodily fluids that contain the virus, it is also possible to acquire HBV through sharing sharp objects, receiving a piercing or tattoo with unsterilized equipment, or from a birthing parent.