Hepatitis B


  • Worldwide, approximately 290,000,000 people have chronic hepatitis B infection
  • Worldwide, hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted from mother to child at time of childbirth
  • Worldwide, hepatitis B is the largest cause of hepatocellular (liver) cancer
  • In the US, hepatitis B causes 5,000 – 6,000 deaths annually.
  • One out of every 250 people is a carrier of hepatitis B in the US and can pass it on to others, often unknowingly.
  • 78,000 people are infected with the hepatitis B virus each year in the US; over 1.25 million people are chronically infected.
  • Due to the screening of pregnant women for hepatitis B and vaccinations of newborns, there has been a sharp decline in the number of newborns infected at the time of childbirth.
  • The estimated medical and work loss cost per year from hepatitis B is over $700 million
  • Asian-Americans have the highest rate of chronic hepatitis B in the US
  • An effective vaccine is available and is now given to all infants
  • Excellent antiviral therapies available given as a pill once daily to help keep the virus from causing liver damage and cirrhosis

You are at risk of hepatitis B infection if you:

  • have sex with someone who is infected with hepatitis B (same or opposite sex)
  • have unprotected sex with multiple partners (same or opposite sex)
  • live in the same house with someone who is infected with hepatitis B
  • have a job that involves contact with human blood (e.g., nurse, emergency medical technician)
  • inject illegal drugs
  • were born in an area of the world where hepatitis B is very common – Asia, sub-Saharan Africa.