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Is Hepatitis B Contagious? Here's What You Should Know

Is Hepatitis B Contagious? Here's What You Should Know

The hepatitis B virus causes liver infection and inflammation of the organ. It is spread primarily through infected blood, semen, vaginal or menstrual fluid, and other body fluids from an infected person. But is hepatitis B contagious through saliva?

There are two types of hepatitis B: acute and chronic. The acute infection may last several weeks. Chronic hepatitis B occurs if the symptoms last for six months, and is more likely to happen if you were infected as a child.

Fortunately for many, it is a short-term illness. However in some cases, the chronic infection can result in serious illness or conditions such as liver cancer, and cirrhosis.

According to health authorities, hepatitis B is a global health issue especially common in certain parts of Africa and Asia. In the Philippines, approximately eight and half million Filipinos have hepatitis B.

Is Hepatitis B Contagious? Signs and Symptoms

Some signs and symptoms of hepatitis B are:

  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lack of energy
  • Jaundice (yellowing of eyes or skin)
  • Nausea
  • Brown urine

Is Hepatitis B Contagious Through Saliva? Transmission of the Disease

Is hepatitis B contagious through saliva? Infection through bodily fluid occurs when people share needles as in tattoos and piercings, syringes for drug administration, and sharing of personal care items, such as toothbrushes. This, in particular, is how people can catch hepatitis from saliva.

The disease may also be transmitted perinatally, an occurrence when the virus is passed down from the mother to the baby at birth.

Hepatitis is also transmitted sexually, particularly among unvaccinated men who have intercourse with other men and heterosexual individuals who have multiple sex partners.

It must be clarified however, that one cannot catch the virus by kissing or being kissed by an infected person on the cheek. In addition, transmission does not occur through coughs or sneezes, hugging, hand-holding or hand-shaking, eating food prepared by an infected person, and breastfeeding.

How Can Hepatitis B Be Managed?

Regrettably, there is no existing cure for this disease. But the silver lining is that it can be managed in order for an infected person to live normally. Foremost among these management practices is:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding smoking

Having regular doctor visits to monitor the liver via blood tests and medical imaging

For those with advanced liver disease, a liver transplant may be necessary. Although this can prolong the ill person’s life, it is not a cure.

Hepatitis B Prevention

Hepatitis B can also be prevented through safe blood-handling procedures, which has dramatically lessened the transmission of the virus. Another is employing safe sex practices such as using condoms.

Is hepatitis B contagious through saliva? While the answer is yes, the only risk of transmission is through personal care items like toothbrushes and razors. These should never be shared, as one can catch hepatitis from saliva.

For those with an affinity for getting tattoos, they may reduce their risk of acquiring the virus by getting their body artwork done at establishments that implement sanitary hygiene practices, like using a new needle for every customer.

You may also stay ahead of the illness through blood tests which can determine if you have the virus or not.

But the most effective form of prevention for hepatitis B is vaccination. Medical authorities recommend inoculating newborns, children, adolescents, pregnant women. and those at risk for the disease.

Key Takeaway

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes inflammation and damage to the liver. It is transmitted through bodily fluids like infected blood, vaginal fluid, and semen.

Is hepatitis B contagious through saliva? Yes, it is possible to catch hepatitis from saliva. This occurs when people share needles, syringes, and personal care items like razors and toothbrushes. Transmission can also occur sexually.

Prevention of hepatitis B involves practicing proper hygiene, safe blood-handling protocols, safe sex practices and vaccination.

While the majority of cases of infection are acute (lasting several weeks), chronic infection can occur and result in liver cancer. People living with hepatitis B can manage their condition by eating healthfully, steering clear of alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and regular visits with the doctor.

Learn about More STIs and STDs here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Hepatitis B, https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/index.htm#:~:text=Hepatitis%20B%20is%20a%20vaccine,someone%20who%20is%20not%20infected.

Accessed 3 July 2021


Hepatitis B, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-b

Accessed 3 July 2021


Hepatitis B, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4246-hepatitis-b#management-and-treatment

Accessed 3 July 2021


Hepatitis B, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/viral-hepatitis/hepatitis-b#treatment

Accessed 3 July 2021


DOH rolls out nationwide hepatitis B testing, appeals for participation of parents and caregivers, https://doh.gov.ph/node/14559

Accessed 3 July 2021

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Written by Louise Nichole Logarta Updated Sep 14, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel