The term Hepatitis simply implies to inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by toxins like alcohol or viruses. Other viruses that can injure the liver include hepatitis A & C viruses. However, all the three hepatitis A, B & C viruses are not related to each. What distinguish the viruses from each other is their structure, mode of spreading among persons, severity of signs they normally cause, how they are treated, and the results of the infections.


Hepatitis B infects the liver, and what causes this is the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). Approximately 350 million people worldwide are infected with this virus, which causes 620,000 deaths across the world annually. Statistics from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that nearly 46,000 latest cases of hepatitis B reported in U.S.A in the year 2006 (Nettleman & Mortada, 2008).

The rate of new infection in the U.S is highest among individuals aged between 25-44 years (3.1 cases per 100,000 people) and lowest among those younger than 15 years (0.02 per 100,000 people). This can be used draw significant transmission modes of Hepatitis B (drug abuse, sexual transmission, contact with infected blood, etc) and the consequences of universal vaccination of infants. U.S has so far recorded a 75% drop in newly diagnosed cases of Hepatitis B in the past decade. The outcome emerges as a result of increased vaccination, and heightened public awareness of HIV/AIDS that has led to safer sex practices (Nettleman & Mortada, 2008).


In the initial cases of Hepatitis B, a person is said to have an acute infection. Majority of people succeed in eliminating the virus, and become infection free. In other cases, the virus resist, leading chronic infection with Hepatitis B that usually last longer. Approximately 0.8-1.4 million Americans are chronically infected with Hepatitis B. Furthermore; 15%-20% population of Sub-Sahara Africa and Southeast Asia are chronically infected with Hepatitis B (Nettleman & Mortada, 2008).


The HBV is a DNA virus, implying that it is genetically made up of deoxyribonucleic acids. It belongs to Hepadnaviridae family of virus. The virus is mainly found in the liver; however, it can also be traced in the blood and some body fluids. HBV has an enclosing envelope (outer coat) and a core particle (central portion). The envelope consists the surface antigen (HBsAg). The core contains the core antigen (HBcAg) and a DNA. Both antigens are present in the blood stream and are markers used in the diagnosis and evaluation of patients with suspected viral hepatitis.

HBV replicates in the liver cells, however, the virus itself is not directly accountable for the liver damage. Its’ presence activates an immune response from the body as the body tires to get-rid off the virus, and heal from infection. This response causes inflammation and can critically injure the liver cells (Nettleman & Mortada, 2008).


Hepatitis B is transmitted through exposure to infected body secretion or blood. The HBV is present in the semen, saliva, breast milk, blood, and vaginal discharge. Unsafe sexual exposure among the Americans is the major mode of transmission of hepatitis B, followed by the use of contaminated needles for either body piercing, tattooing, injecting illicit drug or acupuncture. Others include mother to a newborn during birth, transfused blood, donated livers, and other organs, however, this cases are nowadays rare due to improvement in medical technology (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).


Hepatitis B is preventable through vaccination which is effective to infants, children and adults. Therefore, all families, sex partners and close household members of the chronically infected individuals need to be screened and put on vaccination. Secondly, avoid sharing of sharp objects and also avoid coming in contact with blood and body fluids. Lastly, sexually active individual should practice safer sex especially if they are not in a steady relationship (CDC, 2012).


In summary, there are three types of hepatitis i.e. A, B & C with different characteristics; however, we dealt with hepatitis B. The disease is caused by HBV whose host is human beings, and it infects the liver. It is transmitted through several ways including unsafe sex and sharing of sharp objects with infected people. Although, the disease has a vaccination, it continues to infect a good number of people worldwide. We notice that disease kill approximately 620,000 people across the world yearly.


Nettleman, M. D & Mortada, E. M. (2008). MedicineNet.com: Hepatitis B (HBV, Hep B). Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/hepatitis_b/article.htm.

CDC (2012). Hepatitis B Information for Health Professional. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HBV/.