Hepatitis B infection is one of the common sexually transmitted diseases in the world today. It is an infection of the liver whereby the virus causes inflammation in the surrounding tissues and cells of the liver. The incidence of this infection has been on the rise for so long because of the great increase in unprotected sexual intercourse among young people around the world (and even older folks too).
The World Health Organization has recorded that about 257 million people are living with the hepatitis infection. WHO also recorded in 2015 that 887,000 people have actually died from the hepatitis infection.
The hepatitis B infection is also a terrible infection with a high number of diseases like cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer associated with it. This is because of the great damage done to the liver cells by the hepatitis virus which multiplies after every minute.
It is, however, important to learn and understand the mode of transmission of the hepatitis viral infection so as to properly prevent the infection from transmitting from one person to another because a proper understanding of the transmission of the infection is a pointer to the dos and don'ts of the infection.
This article gives adequate insight into the transmission of hepatitis infection from one person to another.
Mode of Transmission of Hepatitis B
Several modes of transmission exist for the hepatitis viral infection, which are ways by which the infection can be contracted. Some of the ways are:
- Mother to child. Hepatitis infection can be transmitted from an infected mother to the newborn. This is because the virus moves around in the blood of the affected individual and this same blood is passed to the fetus in the womb of the mother alongside several pathogens and infections. Therefore, a woman with hepatitis infection will most likely give birth to a child with hepatitis viral infection.
- Transfusion of infected blood. The blood of a hepatitis patient is filled with the hepatitis virus. If this same blood is collected from that individual with the sole aim of helping someone else who has a shortage of blood, the transfusion of that infected blood from the affected individual to a patient causes the transmission of hepatitis infection to that particular patient.
- Exposure to body fluids. Apart from blood, the hepatitis virus can also wander around in the bodily secretions of affected individuals. Body secretions like saliva, mucus, sweat, etc., may be harbor the virus which can serve as a transmission agent for hepatitis if it comes in contact with somebody else without the virus. Even vaginal fluids and semen can transmit this virus and give rise to the hepatitis infection.
- Use of infected needles. In the hospital setting, some healthcare givers make use of single syringes for more than one patient. In this case, the used needle and syringe are actually recycled to be used for another patient but is highly dangerous and can result in the transmission of terrible infections. If the prior patient is hepatitis-positive, the hepatitis virus can be transmitted via the infected needle to the latter patient. This is why most hospitals make use of one syringe per patient so as to reduce the risk of infection to other patients which might actually be dangerous to them and even the healthcare providers.
- Unprotected sexual intercourse. This is the major means through which the hepatitis infection is transmitted from one person to another. It is the major reason why the infection is regarded as a sexually transmitted infection or sexually transmitted disease because of the higher percentage of transmission of the infection through sexual intercourse. The World Health Organization (WHO) advocates the use of condoms and other means of protection during sexual intercourse. This is to reduce the chances of contracting the hepatitis infection and other sexually transmitted infections because the virus can be transmitted from one partner to another through genital secretions during sexual intercourse.
- Sharing sharp objects. Apart from syringes and needles in the hospital, other sharp objects can also result in the transmission of hepatitis infection from one person to the other. This can happen when the infected individual gets a cut with a sharp object and this same sharp object is used for a non-affected individual. The virus in the blood has been transferred to the sharp object at this stage which was eventually transferred to the non-affected individual thereby, infecting the non-affected individual with the hepatitis infection. A good example is hair clippers or shaving sticks.
The transmission of hepatitis infection can happen in numerous ways differing from person to person. Having understood the ways through which this virus can be transmitted, it is important to take adequate measures so as to not to be infected with the virus and also prevent the transmission to others if one has been infected with the virus.
It is important to conclude that vaccines can be used to prevent one from contracting the infection even if one has been exposed through any of the above means of transmission of the virus. The vaccines get rid of the virus before they accumulate in the body and cause terrible damage.