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Hepatitus B

Jul 23, 1997

Okay here's the question. My Girlfriend was recently diagnosed with Hepatitus B. We are sexually active and she contracted it after a visit with me. (We think, there are too many coincedences for it not to have been) Now I thought that everyone was vacinated against this disease as a child. Am I mistaken? I never,to my knowledge, showed any signs of the disease at any time. Does this mean that I am a carrier? If so does this mean that I can infect others? If I can infect others how can I get rid of the hepatitus virus? I assume I should go and get tested for the virus to begin with. I just wanted to get some background info Thanks in advance.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. You cannot assume that you were the source of her infection at this point. The only way for you to know if you have been infected with Hepatitis B is to get tested. Hepatitis B tests can determine if you were recently infected, if you are infectious to others, or whether you were infected a long time ago. For more information about Hepatitis B testing, go to the posting, "How soon should I test for Hep B?/ Window Period for Hepatitis?"

In the USA, routine vaccination for Hepatitis B during childhood did not begin until the early 1990's. Other than children, the only individuals who usually would have been vaccinated for Hepatitis B are individuals who are occupationally exposed to blood; in the USA, Federal law requires Hepatitis B vaccines be offered to individuals whose jobs expose them to blood on a regular basis (for example, healthcare workers, police officers, firemen, prison guards, etc.). Therefore, unless you were vaccinated as part of this occupational requirement, you have to assume that you were not vaccinated against Hepatitis B. There is no cure for Hepatitis B, although there are some antiviral treatments that can make the disease less severe. Not all people show symptoms of Hepatitis B, so even if you do not have symptoms does not necessarily mean that you are not infected. The only way to determine if you are infected or not, and if you are infectious to others, is to be tested.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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