A/Prof David van der Poorten
Dr Roslyn Vongsuvanh
  Prof Golo Ahlenstiel
Dr Way Siow

Appointments & Enquiries:  (02) 8711 0160

Hepatitis B

 

What is hepatitis B infection?hepatitis s1 liver hepatitis virus copy

Hepatitis B is a blood-borne and sexually transmissible infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus attacks the liver causing either immediate or long-term (chronic) damage. World-wide, more than 780,000 people die yearly from the consequences of hepatitis B. It is estimated that 77,000 people in NSW have chronic hepatitis B and this number is growing. The Western Sydney local health district has one of the highest rates of hepatitis B infection in NSW due largely to residents migrating from countries where hepatitis B is endemic. A large proportion of people with hepatitis B are unaware of their infection.

 

How is hepatitis B virus spread? Am I at risk?

Hepatitis B is spread through infected blood and other bodily fluids, usually through a breach in the skin or contact with the internal lining surfaces of the body. In countries with high rates of hepatitis B in the community, hepatitis B is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth or in early childhood.

 

Risk factors for hepatitis B include:

  • originating from a country where hepatitis B is endemic, including- east and south-east Asia; sub-saharan Africa and the southern parts of eastern and central Europe.
  • Injecting drugs
  • Sexual contact (heterosexual or homosexual)
  • Tattooing with unsterilized equipment
  • Needlestick injuries (eg health care workers)

 

What are the consequences of hepatitis B infection?

Most people who acquire hepatitis B during childhood (the most common mode of acquisition) go onto develop chronic hepatitis B. People with chronic hepatitis B are at risk of progressive liver inflammation and scarring. In roughly 15% of people, this scarring becomes irreversible and leads to a state called cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). Patients with cirrhosis can have life-threatening complications such as liver failure and are at higher risk of liver cancer.

Patients who become newly infected as adults have more than a 95% chance of clearing the virus on their own.

 

Can hepatitis B be treated?

People with chronic hepatitis B can be given medications which may slow the progression of cirrhosis and reduce the risk of HCC. Not all patients with chronic hepatitis B require treatment. Discussion with one of our specialists will help determine whether treatment is needed for you.

 

Specialised Services Provided

  • Assessment of hepatitis B disease stage and need for treatment
  • Treatment of Hepatitis B with oral antivirals such as entecavir or tenofovir.
  • Tretament of Hepatitis B with Interferon
  • Treatment of Hepatitis B in late pregnancy to prevent viral transmission
  • Access to drug trials for new Hepatitis B tretaments
  • Liver cancer screening in patients with Hepatitis B

Research Articles

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