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Effects of Hepatitis B Virus Infection

Hepatitis B is one of several viruses that can attack and damage the liver, a critically important organ in the upper-right side of your abdomen.† Hepatitis B is passed by infected body fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids and saliva. The virus can be spread through sexual contact or by contact with the blood of an infected person, during childbirth, or when drug abusers share needles.† Health care and childcare workers are also at risk.† Others at risk include anyone who has had a sexually transmitted disease, men who have had sex with men, anyone with multiple sexual partners, anyone who has been on dialysis, anyone living with someone with hepatitis, anyone with a tattoo, or anyone who has served time in prison.

The classic symptoms of hepatitis include fatigue, lost appetite, nausea, jaundiced skin or eyes, dark urine, upper-right sided abdominal pain, and muscle aches. Most people who get hepatitis become immune to it after the disease runs its course and then they can no longer pass it onto someone else.† However, 10% of infected people can develop chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis or hardening of the liver, or liver cancer.

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Created: 8/15/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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