Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus called hepatitis B or HBV. Majority of people with HBV get rid of the virus within about 6 months. But in some HBV can become chronic and may need treatment. It is easily preventable and there is a vaccine available.
Hepatitis B is contagious and is transmitted when one comes in contact with semen, vaginal fluid and blood of an infected person. Saliva of a person living with HBV is not considered infectious, but it can be if it is tainted with blood. So HBV is generally not spread through spit but if it is contaminated with blood there is a possibility of it spreading. Other types of exposure to saliva such as kissing are unlikely modes of transmission.
Hepatitis B virus is not spread through sharing food or water, eating utensils, breastfeeding, shaking hands, hugging, kissing, sneezing or coughing.
HBV can be prevented by taking the following precautions:
- using new needles/syringes cookers, water, pipes, straws used for snorting drugs and other drug related equipment
- using safer sex tools such as condoms (internal / external), dental dams and lubes
- not sharing personal items like razors, nail clippers or toothbrushes
Getting tested is the surest way of knowing one’s status.