Precautions for others
What should my family be aware of?
If you are diagnosed with Hepatitis B, then your family (or people you live with) will be offered the Hepatitis B vaccination in order to prevent them from becoming infected. You should also make sure that your family understand how you can get hepatitis B and how to clean up properly after blood spills. This will help keep your family protected.
To begin with it may not be easy to deal with the fact there is a chance of passing on a potentially serious illness within a family. However, once they have completed their vaccination course then it is extremely unlikely they will ever become infected. In the early days though, it is worth tackling these issues as gently and supportively as possible with the family member who is diagnosed.
How can families and friends stay safe?
The main way of staying safe is to get vaccinated. This prevents infection. Hepatitis B is a blood borne virus which is passed on through blood to blood contact, but it is also passed on in other bodily fluids – particularly sexual fluids. You can’t catch Hepatitis B from kissing, cuddling, shaking hands or from sharing cups or food. However, you do need to be careful around blood, for example, when someone is bleeding. Make sure all friends and family members know how to clean up blood properly.
If you are diagnosed with Hepatitis B then your spouse or partner should be vaccinated. However, given that vaccination takes between 4 and 6 months to be completed properly, you should use protection when having sex.
At home, any item that can nick or cut (e.g. a razor, toothbrush, scissors, nail clippers) may be a potential source of infection if shared between friends or members of the family and the person who is infected with Hepatitis B. Of course this is very unlikely because both people sharing the infected item would have to cut themselves for the infected blood to get into their bloodstream. However, there’s no harm in taking extra precautions. It is a good idea for the person who has Hepatitis B to keep their own items in a box or cup with their name on it, so family friends and flatmates know not to use them. The same goes for jewellery that pierces the skin such as earrings or nose rings.