How did you get it?
Hepatitis B is a virus that is transmitted (passed on) by infected body fluids. It can be transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person. This is commonly referred to as ‘Blood to Blood’ contact which means you can get Hepatitis B when infected blood finds its way into your bloodstream and the virus is able to survive and multiply to establish an infection. In terms of an average healthy lifestyle, the opportunities for that to happen are quite rare. Because Hepatitis B lives in bodily fluids (including sexual fluids) it is also a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Risk Factors: Who is at risk of Hepatitis B?
You should consider a test for Hepatitis B if you have ever been at risk of exposure to the virus. This includes anyone who:
- Was born in a country with a high prevalence of Hepatitis B - particularly central and east Asian and African countries.
- Is the child of a mother with Hepatitis B - most common form of transmission in Scotland.
- Has ever injected or snorted drugs in the past (including anabolic steroids) using shared equipment, however long ago, even if this was only once or twice.
- frequently changes sexual partners
- Identifies as a man who has sex with men (MSM)
- Is a regular sexual partner or household contact of someone with Hepatitis B.
- Has ever had medical or dental treatment in a country where infection control may be poor.
- Is infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Has had tattoos, piercings, acupuncture or electrolysis where infection control procedures are poor - particularly abroad.
- Has had a blood transfusion in the UK prior to 1991
- Has received any blood products before 1987 in Scotland (before 1986 in England)
- Has been the recipient of organ tissue/transplant in the UK prior to 1982.
- Has been accidentally exposed to blood where there is a risk of transmission of Hepatitis B (e.g. healthcare worker with needle stick injury)
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Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework
The Scottish Government has published the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework to tackle Hepatitis B in Scotland.
> Download Framework