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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B illustration

What is hepatitis B?

A nasty bug which infects the liver and is passed on through bodily fluids. Most people do not experience any symptoms. However, look out for symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dark urine and yellow skin and eyes.

Hepatitis B illustration

Risk areas for Hepatitis B

Map of risk areas for Hepatitis B
  • Key fact

    Around 296 million people are affected by hepatitis B, an infection that is the leading cause of liver cancer globally.1,5

  • How do you get hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is spread in blood and body fluids. It can be caught through unprotected sex with someone infected with the virus, or by exposure to contaminated blood through the reuse of needles or syringes (for example, while injecting drugs or during medical procedures).1

    It can also be caught having body piercings or tattoos using unsterilised equipment.1

  • Which countries are affected by hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is found in every country, but the risk is higher in  Africa, eastern Europe and Asia (see map).2

  • What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

    Most people do not experience symptoms. But for those who do, the symptoms include: yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and pain in the abdomen.1 These symptoms usually take 1-3 months to pass but can sometimes take longer, leading to chronic hepatitis B.3

  • How serious is the hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is a serious disease. Though the initial symptoms generally pass within months, the virus can cause long-term and potentially fatal liver damage.1,3 It can also lead to the development of cirrhosis (a scarring of the liver) or liver cancer.1 Treatment can keep the virus under control and reduce this risk.1

  • Can I prevent getting hepatitis B?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • Don’t have unprotected sex (e.g. use condoms)1
    • Don’t use illegal drugs. If you have to use illicit drugs, don’t share or use unsterilised equipment to inject drugs4
    • Have medical procedures, tattoos and body piercing only where you can be sure equipment has been sterilised4

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  1. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Hepatitis B. June 2022. Available online: (Last accessed May 2023)
  2. Schweizer A, Horn J, Mikolajxzyk RT, et al. Estimations of worldwide prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection: a systematic review of data published between 1965 and 2013. Lancet. 2015;386(10003):1546-55.
  3. ­NHS. Conditions. Hepatitis B. July 2022. Available online: (Last accessed May 2023)
  4. The Mayo Clinic. Disease and Conditions. Hepatitis B. September 2022. Available online: (Last accessed May 2023)
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Global Immunization. Fast Facts on Global Hepatitis B. July 2022. Available online: accessed May 2023)

UK-BOTB-2100023 (v2.0) May 2023