Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. You can contract and transmit hepatitis B through sexual contact or through contact with blood. Mothers can also infect their babies while giving birth. Most people with hepatitis B do not have any symptoms but can infect others.
This is what you can do yourself
Recognizing hepatitis B
Only 1 in 3 people with hepatitis B will have symptoms. Symptoms include: tiredness, a flu-like feeling, muscle aches and joint pain. The skin and the sclera may also turn yellow. Your urine can be as dark as coffee and your faeces as light as putty.
The symptoms usually begin within 2 to 3 months after infection. Most people usually recover without intervention within several months. But sometimes the virus stays in your blood your entire life. This is called a chronic hepatitis B infection. This type of infection can become a serious liver disease.
Preventing hepatitis B
- Use a condom.
- Be careful around the blood of others. Ensure that no blood gets into a cut, or your eye, mouth or nose. Do not share razors, nail clippers or tooth brushes.
- Do not use any needles previously used by others.
- Only get a tattoo or piercing from a place that uses sterile needles.
- Get vaccinated After three vaccinations most people are protected against Hepatitis B for life.
- A small amount of infected blood in a wound is enough to cause an infection.
- The virus cannot be transmitted through regular contact such as shaking hands, a hug or even a kiss.
- The virus also cannot be transmitted by sharing cutlery or plates or by using the same toilet.
If you think you have hepatitis B
- Avoid giving the disease to others by using a condom and be careful around blood.
- Schedule an appointment with your GP. They can refer you to the Municipal Health Service or a treatment centre.
This is what the Municipal Health Service does
Reasons to vaccinate include:
- You are a man who has sex with other men
- You are a sex worker
- You are having sex or are cohabitating (NL) with someone with hepatitis B
- You are travelling to a country with a lot of hepatitis B infections
- You have had a risky injury (NL), you have pricked yourself or you were bitten
- You have received an invitation to vaccinate your baby
- Your employer has advised you to get vaccinated due to your profession (NL)
When a doctor diagnoses you with hepatitis B, we will check to see who infected you and where. Your family members and partner/partners will receive free testing for hepatitis B and vaccinations.
After six months we will test your blood again. If you have a chronic infection, your GP will refer you to a treatment centre for hepatitis.
Hepatitis A vaccination
If you have a chronic hepatitis B infection, we will vaccinate you against hepatitis A.
You need 2 vaccinations to be fully immunized against hepatitis A. One vaccine costs €40.57. You will be reimbursed by your health insurer. The costs of your vaccine will be deducted from your excess. The vaccination is free for children under the of age 18.
- Call 020 555 5337 (from Monday to Friday between 09.00 and 17.00 h)
- Call 020 5555 555 if you pricked yourself on a used needle or if you were at risk due to another type of injury in the evening or at the weekend. Ask for the attending physician at Infectious Diseases.
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM): hepatitis B