Hepatitis B is a serious infection that causes liver inflammation (swelling and irritation). It’s spread through blood, semen and other body fluids via sexual contact, sharing of needles, accidental needle sticks, and from mother to baby during childbirth. About 1.25 million people in the United States have hepatitis B. It’s the most common cause of scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and liver cancer in the world.
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus. Many adults who have hepatitis B can recover from it. Recovery usually occurs within 6 months. This is known as an acute infection.
Some people have the infection for a longer period of time. This is known as a chronic infection. It can last an entire lifetime and lead to liver scarring, liver failure and liver cancer. If you get the virus as a child, you usually develop a chronic infection.