Hepatitis B | Causes & Risk Factors

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What causes hepatitis B and how is it spread?

Hepatitis B is caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus. You can get the virus if you have unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner. People who use intravenous (IV) drugs can get hepatitis B when they share needles with someone who has the virus. Health care workers (such as nurses, lab technicians and doctors) can get hepatitis B if they are accidentally stuck with a needle that was used on an infected patient. The infection can also be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth. You are also more likely to get hepatitis B if you travel to areas of the world where hepatitis B is common.

Hepatitis B cannot be transmitted through casual contact. For example, you cannot get hepatitis B by hugging or shaking hands with someone who is infected.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 10/96

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