Hepatitis Home > Hepatitis B Virus

The hepatitis B virus affects the liver and can lead to a variety of complications. The virus is transmitted when blood, semen, or other bodily fluids from an infected person enter the body of a person who is not infected. This can occur through activities such as sex with an infected person or sharing needles or drugs with people who are infected. Symptoms typically occur after an incubation period, which can last from 30 to 180 days.

What Is the Hepatitis B Virus?

The hepatitis B virus (HBV for short) is the virus that causes the illness hepatitis B. A person infected with the virus may develop:
  • A sudden onset of fever
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice).
These symptoms occur because the hepatitis B virus affects the liver. Not everyone infected with the virus, however, will develop symptoms.
Although many people who are exposed to the hepatitis B virus will be able to get rid of it, some people will not. These people end up having a long-term liver infection called chronic hepatitis B. In a person with this condition, the virus continues to cause damage, which can eventually lead to:
The hepatitis B virus is a DNA virus that belongs to the genus Orthohepadnavirus of the Hepadnaviridae family. There are several other types of viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, C, D, E, and G. The most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C.
In a typical year, an estimated 70,000 Americans become infected with chronic HBV, and some 5,000 of them will die of complications caused by the disease.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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