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Hepatitis B is an infection caused by blood, semen, or vaginal fluids contaminated with the hepatitis B virus. It causes inflammation of the liver. If left untreated, hepatitis B can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
Types of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can be acute or chronic. New cases of hepatitis B are classified as acute. Most people with acute hepatitis B naturally fight the virus without any medical treatment.
Between 5% to 10% of acute hepatitis B cases turn into chronic hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis B is hepatitis B that lasts longer than six months. Chronic hepatitis B may take years or even decades to clear up. Some people have chronic hepatitis B all their lives.
Hepatitis B in the United States
Approximately 20,900 people contract acute hepatitis B in the United States each year, and around 2.2 million Americans currently live with chronic hepatitis B.. New rates of infection have dropped substantially since 1991, when a routine vaccination was introduced for children. However, infection rates have increased slightly since 2014 in line with a rise in IV drug use.