Hepatitis B is a much more severe and longer-lasting disease than hepatitis A. It is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions or semen, containing the hepatitis B virus.
For some people, the infection only lasts for a few weeks; this is acute hepatitis B. Those who develop chronic hepatitis B will have a lifelong infection that can cause liver cancer, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or death. In most cases, HBV infections do not present with any symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms, so you may go undiagnosed until years later when the disease can become more severe.
Hepatitis B can be spread from mother to baby during birth, sex with an infected person, sharing needles and syringes, sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes or coming into contact with the blood or open wound of an infected person.
You can protect yourself with a vaccine against this very dangerous form of hepatitis. Therapies to manage chronic HBV are also available, but once infected, there is no current treatment to cure individuals. Therefore, screening to identify HBV, and prevention of new infections is key. If you have had hepatitis B once, you cannot get it again.