If you are a HBV carrier, it’s your responsibility to take important steps to care for yourself and prevent the spread of HBV. Here’s what to do:
Keep others healthy
- Hepatitis B is transmitted by contact with infected blood, serum, semen, and vaginal fluids. Wash your hands with soap after touching your own blood or body fluids. Throw personal items such as tissues, menstrual pads, tampons, or bandages away in a plastic bag.
- All cuts and open sores should be covered with a bandage. Wipe up your blood spills, then, re-clean the area with a solution of one part household bleach to ten parts water.
- Tell sexual partners you have hepatitis B. Partners should be tested for HBV, and if not immune to the virus, they should receive the vaccination series of three shots. Until protection from HBV has been guaranteed, use a condom.
- People living in the same household as a carrier should see their doctor for hepatitis B testing and vaccination. If anyone unvaccinated is exposed to the your blood or body fluids, hepatitis B immune globulin can be given within two days to two weeks can prevent the infection.
Keep yourself healthy
- Monitor the state of your liver at least once a year to determine if the disease is progressing and if cirrhosis or liver cancer is developing.
- Review all medications with your physician. Even some over-the-counter and alternative medicines can harm the liver and especially if taken with alcohol.
- Have periodic liver-imaging studies for liver cancer. The value of alpha-fetoprotein, a blood test for liver cancer, is uncertain.
- If pregnant, be sure to tell your physician you are an HBV carrier so your baby will receive appropriate management upon delivery.
- On routine visits, remind your doctor, dentist, and other healthcare providers that you are an HBV carrier.
Things NOT to do
- Avoid, or severely restrict, alcohol intake. Your liver may be further damaged by alcohol. If you do drink alcohol, NEVER do so with acetaminophen, found in Tylenol or other cold and headache remedies. Do not share with anyone toothbrushes, razors, needles, syringes, nail files, clippers, scissors, or any object that may come into contact with your blood or body fluids.
- Do not share food that has been in your mouth and do not pre-chew food for babies.
- Do not donate blood, plasma, body organs, tissue, or sperm.
Stay informed about research developments regarding treatments so you are able to make the best decisions. Research is now being planned and conducted to improve the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (HCV) and hepatitis B (HBV) infections.