Hepatitis B is a chronic illness which can be life threatening. It is transmitted between people by contact with sperm, vaginal secretions, or sharing objects which were in contact with blood even in invisible and minute quantities.
Risky practices :
Unprotected sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal, and oral): the hepatitis B virus is present in sperm and vaginal secretions;
Sharing drug paraphernalia like syringes, needles, cotton wool, spoons, filters, water, straws etc;
Tattooing, piercing and acupuncture are potentially risky if the material is not properly sterilised or not used only once;
Sharing objects which could have been in contact with blood like razors, tooth brushes, scissors, nail clippers etc.
Pregnancy, childbirth and breast feeding :
There is a risk of mother-to-child transmission if the mother was infected before or during pregnancy.
1. Travelling in countries where the epidemic is widespread: before leaving, you should always check which vaccines are recommended in your destination.
You can get more information on the health ministry website on www.sante.gouv.fr or on the website of the sanitary surveillance institute www.invs.sante.fr
The higher the prevalence in the country the higher the risk is for you.
2. The virus can spread more easily in some groups or communities than in the general population. In this case the vaccination is highly recommended.
These groups include men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and people who often travel in countries where the hepatitis B virus is widespread (Asia and Africa).
There is an effective, preventive vaccine for hepatitis B which is covered by the French social security.
If you are infected with hepatitis B, there is treatment but no cure.
Family and people in contact with you should get vaccinated.
Talk to your doctor about it.