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Common Hepatitis B Myths

Hepatitis B Myths

Transmission

The myth
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through casual contact such as kissing, handshakes or sharing of meals, water, bowls or utensils with someone who has the disease.
The truth
The disease can only be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, blood to blood contact or from an infected mother to her child at birth.
The myth
Hepatitis B can be transmitted by mosquito bites:
The truth
Hepatitis B cannot be transmitted by any insect bites, including mosquitos. Diseases such as yellow fever and malaria are transmitted by mosquitos. There are no known cases worldwide of transmission by mosquitos.
The myth
“It is not safe to breastfeed if I have Hep B?”
The truth
Breastfeeding is safe, hepatitis B cannot be transmitted to the baby through breast milk. Vaccination of the new-born will reduce any risk of mother to child transmission. If you have cracked or bleeding nipples then there is risk of hepatitis B transmission. However, if your baby has been vaccinated against hepatitis B, then they are protected from the low risk of transmission this way.
The myth
Hepatitis B is a genetically transmitted disease
The truth
Hepatitis B is not a genetically transmitted disease, it can only be transmitted from blood to blood contact, unprotected sexual contact, and mother to child during childbirth.
The myth
You can pass on hepatitis B to your pets.
The truth
Hepatitis B only infects humans and higher primates. Your pet dog, cat, or goldfish will not get hepatitis B from humans with hepatitis B.
The myth
Shaking hands with a sweaty person can transmit hepatitis B
The truth
Hepatitis B cannot be transmitted through sweat, it can only be transmitted from blood to blood contact, unprotected sexual contact or mother to child during childbirth.
Hepatitis B Myths

Testing

The myth
Patients from countries with high HBV prevalence can wait until age 40 before getting screened.
The truth
Any person from a high-prevalence region of the world, including the Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, India and Africa, should be screened and vaccinated against hepatitis B, regardless of age. It may be worthwhile to discuss with a doctor about hepatitis B testing and vaccination.
The myth
My doctor definitely would have told me if I had hepatitis B, or if I needed a test.
The truth
Hepatitis B is not a routine blood test. You should not assume you have been tested. You should ask your doctor about hepatitis B testing to be sure.
The myth
I have to disclose my hepatitis B status
The truth
It is your right and personal decision to choose whether or not you disclose, and in most cases you don’t legally have to. However, there are a few circumstances where you may be required to disclose.
Hepatitis B Myths

Treatment

The myth
There is no treatment available for chronic hepatitis B
The truth
The disease is not curable, but it is manageable. For chronic hepatitis B, effective treatment and monitoring can manage the disease from progressing. Not everyone with chronic hepatitis B requires treatment because in some people the virus is present in small amounts. However, it is important that everyone with chronic hepatitis B visits the doctor for regular liver check-ups.
The myth
“I was told I am a ‘healthy carrier’ for hepatitis B so I don’t need to worry”.
The truth
The term healthy carrier is misleading and should not be used. In the past, the term healthy carrier was used to refer to people living with chronic hepatitis B that had no symptoms. The truth is that people living with hepatitis B might look healthy, but they still live with the virus and therefore they should visit their doctor every 6-12 months for check-ups.
Hepatitis B Myths

Vaccination

The myth
Hepatitis B vaccine prevents liver cancer and enhances healing in infected patients.
The truth
The vaccine prevents infection which can lead to cancer. Viral hepatitis is one of many factors that can contribute to the development of liver cancer.
However, the vaccine is ineffective for people already infected with hepatitis B and will not lead to healing.
The myth
If you are vaccinated, you can still get infected with hepatitis B.
The truth
In some cases, immunity may wear off over time. If you have been vaccinated and are at risk of exposure to the virus, it may be worthwhile to have a discussion with a doctor about a blood test to determine if a booster shot is required.
The myth
“If I am infected by the hepatitis B virus can I still be vaccinated to prevent me from contracting or spreading it?
The truth
The vaccine is ineffective for people already infected with hepatitis B. Vaccination is not necessary for you, but your household contacts or partners should be vaccinated to prevent them from contacting hepatitis B.
The myth
“I got hepatitis B. I was told I can’t get married or have kids.”
The truth
There is no reason why you could not get married or have a family, though it is strongly recommended that those close to you are vaccinated.
The myth
“Kids can get hepatitis B even though they have been vaccinated for it?”
The truth
Babies and children require 4 vaccinations for complete protection. After the complete series of vaccines has been given to the child, the chances of getting hepatitis B is very low. No vaccine is 100% effective, a simple blood test will determine the immunity status.

Stigma & Discrimination

People who live with a liver condition such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C, have reported been discriminated against.

LiverWELL, incorporating Hepatitis Victoria, champions the interests of people affected by or at risk of viral hepatitis and liver disease.

LiverWELL acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community.

We welcome people from all cultures, nationalities and religions. Being inclusive and providing equitable services is our commitment.