Get informed : Sexuality

Hepatitis B
What is it?
•    Hepatitis B is an infection caused by a virus.

•    In most cases, people infected with hepatitis B don’t display symptoms.

•    Even though these people don’t develop symptoms, they carry the virus and can still transmit it, sometimes without knowing it.

•    It is a very contagious infection.


The infection can produce various symptoms:
  • fatigue 
  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  •  jaundice

A blood test is required for diagnosis.

How do you contract it?

•    Through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person.

•    Through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person (e.g. using a contaminated, used needle or syringe).

•    By sharing personal hygiene articles with an infected person (e.g. tooth brush, razor, nail file).

•    By kissing (with an exchange of saliva) an infected person.

•    The hepatitis B virus is present in almost all body fluids (e.g. sperm, vaginal secretions, blood, saliva).

•    During childbirth, the baby can get infected if the mother is.

How do you treat it?
•    There is no treatment that cures this virus. However, 90% of those infected recover spontaneously in less than six months; these people have produced antibodies and will no longer catch or transmit the virus. However, the remaining 10% of infected people remain carriers of the virus and can suffer long-term complications.
•    Hepatitis B is one of the only STIs that can be prevented by a vaccine.

•    The vaccine is administered in three doses over six months. It is provided free of charge to students starting in fourth grade, and to anyone at risk.

•    Emergency prevention: someone who has had high-risk sex or who has engaged in high-risk behaviour (e.g. sharing needles or syringes) can receive treatment by injection within 24 to 48 hours of the high-risk behaviour in order to prevent infection from the virus. For further information, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor or a health professional at a medical clinic or CLSC.
Those at risk include:
  • Needle users 
  • Personnel in the health and daycare sectors
  • Anyone who travels abroad
  • Anyone who receives hemodialysis treatment or blood transfusions 
  • Anyone who has had multiple sexual partners
How do you prevent the infection from spreading?
•    Use a condom during all sexual encounters.

•    Do not share needles or syringes.

•    Inform your sexual partners so that they can consult a physician to check for STIs, even if they don’t have any symptoms.
How can you protect yourself?
•    Vaccination (preventive measure)

•    Abstinence (not having sex)

•    Appropriate use of a condom or dental dam during vaginal, anal or oral sex can partially protect against hepatitis B, but it does not provide full protection

•    Avoid sharing needles or syringes (blood-to-blood contact), direct contact with a wound, sharing personal hygiene articles (e.g. tooth brush, razor) or kissing with an exchange of saliva

•    Limit your number of sexual partners

•    Find out about your partners’ sexual past (note: this is no guarantee!)

•    Undergo regular screening tests if you think you are at risk

•    Consult a physician if any of your partners have an STI
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