Hepatitis Home > Hepatitis B Transmission

The hepatitis B virus can be spread when blood, semen, or another body fluid that is infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of an uninfected person. Among the common methods of transmitting hepatitis B are unsafe sexual practices and sharing contaminated needles. Transmission of the virus may also occur when an infected woman transfers the disease to her baby during childbirth.

An Overview of Hepatitis B Transmission

Transmission of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) can occur in one of several ways. It can occur when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. Hepatitis B transmission can also occur through contact with other body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluids, or saliva.
Some specific ways in which the hepatitis B virus can be spread include:
  • Through having sex with an infected person without using a condom (the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing infection with HBV is unknown, but their proper use may reduce transmission)
  • By sharing drugs, needles, or "works" when "shooting" drugs
  • Through needlesticks or "sharps" exposures on the job
  • Having a tattoo or body piercing done with dirty tools that were used on someone else


  • By sharing objects that may have a very tiny amount of blood on them, such as a toothbrush, razor, or tools used for manicures
  • From an infected mother to her baby during birth.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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