Primary Care Resources

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver that is caused by hepatitis B virus. It is one of several viruses that can infect the liver and cause damage.

Hepatitis B can be transmitted during birth, during sex and through blood-to-blood contact. It is prevented by immunisation, safe sex, and safe injecting. All children, young people, and adults are at higher risk so should be vaccinated. 

The best protection from hepatitis B is vaccination.

The standard vaccination schedule consists of 3 doses given over 6 months and is safe and effective. The hepatitis B vaccination is part of the infant immunisation program.


What are the risk factors for hepatitis B?

Your risk of hepatitis B infection is increased if you:

  • Received a piercing or tattoo in an unclean environment using unsterile equipment
  • Have ever injected or inhaled illicit drugs
  • Have HIV
  • Were born to a woman with a hepatitis B infection
  • Were ever in prison
  • Are a health care worker who has been exposed to infected blood, which may happen if an infected needle pierces your skin

Reference: Department of Health, Australia


What are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis B?

Remember hepatitis B often has no symptoms, if they appear, they would be:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Yellow of the eyes and skin (also known by your health professional as jaundice)
  • Dark urine (black tea colour)
  • Nausea
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite

Reference: Department of Health, Australia


What can I do if I think I have hepatitis B?

If you think you might have hepatitis B, talk to your GP and ask for a blood test. hepatitis B is manageable, and your doctor will be able to help you!


Where can I learn more about hepatitis B?

Find more information at:

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis B (known as hep B)

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver, it is caused by a virus. People can get it through sexual contact with someone who has the disease, though blood to blood contact, or during pregnancy. The best protection from hepatitis B is vaccination.

Learn more

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C (known as hep C) is also an infection of the liver caused by a virus. Like hepatitis B, people can get it through sexual contact, thought blood to blood contact, or during pregnancy. There is no vaccination to prevent hepatitis C but a cure is available for up to 95% of people and the treatment course only takes 12 weeks. Prevention involves avoiding exposure to blood that may contain hepatitis C.

Learn more

If you think there is a chance you may have contracted hepatitis B or C, talk to your regular GP about testing options.

More information

For more information about Hepatitis B or C, contact: