Hepatitis B (viral hepatitis)

Hepatitis B is a virus that is carried by infected blood or body fluids. Most people who become infected with hepatitis B get rid of the virus within six months. A short infection is known as an "acute" case of hepatitis B. Having chronic hepatitis B increases your chance of permanent liver damage, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.

The risk of becoming chronically infected depends on the age at the time of infection: more than 90 percent of newborns, about 50 percent of children and less than 5 percent of adults infected with hepatitis B develop chronic hepatitis.

How This Hurts the Liver

The liver becomes inflamed. This causes severe or long-term symptoms.


Acute hepatitis needs no treatment other than careful monitoring of liver function. A liver transplant is used to treat end-stage chronic hepatitis B liver disease.