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Hepatitis B

Your commonly answered questions about Hepatitis B.
Approximately 257 million people globally are positive for Hepatitis B. Having Hepatitis B carries a risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer with chronic infection. Most transmission occurs at the time of childbirth from mother to child through there are a number of risk factors for transmission. Hepatitis B vaccination provides effective protection against Hepatitis B infection.
Is Hepatitis B routinely recommended for STI testing?
We don’t routinely screen for hepatitis B as part of standard STI screening. Current Canadian guidelines recommend screening if you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis B and have one or more of the following risk factors:
  • Exposure to someone with Hepatitis B through blood and/or bodily fluids
  • Engage in high-risk sexual activities (unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners)
  • Substance use with sharing of equipment
  • Use of shared or contaminated materials or equipment (i.e instruments/tools used for personal services procedures that have the potential to break the skin)
  • Use of shared or contaminated medical devices (i.e. glucometers)
  • Occupational exposure to blood/body fluids
  • Travel to/residence in endemic regions
  • Transfusion recipient/medical procedure in Canada before 1970
  • Incarceration
  • History of HIV or Hepatitis C
  • Born in a country with a high risk of Hepatitis B infection
Who should not be screened for Hepatitis B?
  • You are vaccinated and do not carry special risk status (see below)
  • You have a history of Hepatitis B infection
When should I be checked?
  • While there is no agreed-upon screening frequency, we recommend screening regularly in unvaccinated patients at least every 1-2 years with ongoing risk factor exposure.
Should I be screened if I am vaccinated against Hepatitis B? (Special Risk Status)
We recommend screening regardless of vaccination if you carry the following risk factors:
  • Are from areas where there is an intermediate (2%) > or higher risk of prevalence - see Referenced Map
  • Are currently pregnant
  • Require immunosuppressive therapy
  • Are a donor or plasma, semen, organs or tissue
  • Born to a mother with Hepatitis B
If you are concerned about a new Hepatitis B exposure and are seeking post-exposure prophylaxis, we recommend going to an emergency room and not using TeleTest.