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Hepatitis B virus is transmitted when blood from a person with the hepatitis B virus enters the bloodstream of a person with no hepatitis B immunity. It is also transmitted via the semen or vaginal fluid of an infected person. The hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for at least seven days. During this time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not protected by the vaccine.

Hepatitis B is spread:

  • from mother to child at birth or in early childhood from family members and other close contacts
  • through sharing drug injecting equipment
  • through vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom/dental dam
  • through unsterile tattooing or piercing

Hepatitis B may also spread via:

  • Blood-to-blood contact through open wounds
  • Needle stick injuries
  • Sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razor blades or nail clippers
  • Blood transfusions/products  not screened for hepatitis B
  • Unsterilised medical, tattooing, or other piercing equipment

You cannot get hepatitis B from:

  • Hugging, kissing,
  • tears or sneezes
  • Sharing cups, plates, clothes, food, drinks, showers or toilets
  • Eating food prepared by a person with hepatitis B
  • Mosquito bites


In South Australia, you don't have to tell anyone you have hepatitis B unless you are

  • a member of, or applying to join, the Australian Defence Force,
  • a healthcare worker undertaking exposure-prone procedures
  • donating blood, organs or tissues
  • asked when applying for life or health insurance
  • asked when participating in combat sports such as mixed martial arts

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