The main method of hepatitis B transmission is any transfer of bodily fluids from an infected person to an uninfected person. This may include blood, semen, saliva, breast milk, or vaginal fluids. This means that having unprotected intercourse, sharing needles, or using dirty tattooing equipment can all result in getting this disease. Additionally, some people are accidentally stuck by a dirty needle that contains the disease, while babies born to mothers with hepatitis B may get it during delivery. Fortunately, most of these modes of hepatitis B transmission can be avoided.
One of the most common methods of hepatitis B transmission is unprotected sexual intercourse. This is because both semen and vaginal fluids can transmit the disease. Other forms of unprotected sex, such as oral or anal sex, are also at fault since saliva and blood can carry the disease as well. Therefore, using a condom, getting tested frequently for STDs, and getting vaccinated against it are some ways to help prevent this method of hepatitis B transmission.
Since blood can contain this disease, using needles that other people have used without washing can spread hepatitis B. For example, tattoo shops that do not properly sterilize equipment can result in the spread of this disease through dirty needles. Doing drugs that require needles can also cause hepatitis B transmission, as used needles may have infected blood on them.
Even those who do not get tattoos or take drugs can be at risk for hepatitis B transmission through needles. This is because some jobs require the use of needles or other sharp objects, and if this type of equipment has already poked someone who is infected, it could still have their blood on it. Thus, those who have jobs that involve sharp objects should be particularly careful that they do not get pricked by them.
A pregnant woman infected with hepatitis B could pass the disease to her baby during delivery. For this reason, women should be tested and vaccinated for the disease before becoming pregnant, if possible. Many adults carrying this disease do not know they have it, and unfortunately it can be deadly, especially for a newborn baby.
Some people are more at risk for hepatitis B than others. For example, those who have unprotected intercourse, particularly with multiple partners, are among the most likely carriers of this disease. Intravenous drug users, healthcare employees, those who travel internationally, babies born to or breastfed by infected mothers, and people living with or having intercourse with an infected person all have higher than usual chances of getting hepatitis B, as well.