Hepatitis B Prevention and Control

Key points

  • Hepatitis B spreads when someone comes in contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is infected.
  • The best way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.
  • CDC recommends all adults get tested for hepatitis B.
A doctor administering a vaccine in a man's shoulder


Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). CDC estimates that approximately 640,000 people in the United States have chronic, or long-term, hepatitis B.

How it spreads

Hepatitis B is primarily spread when blood, semen, or certain other body fluids – even in microscopic amounts – from a person infected with HBV enter the body of someone who is not infected. HBV can also be transmitted through:

  • Birth from a person infected with HBV.
  • Sex with a person infected with HBV.
  • Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from a person infected with HBV, such as needles, syringes, and even medical equipment, such as glucose monitors.
  • Sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes or razors, though less common.
  • Direct contact with the blood or open sores of a person who has hepatitis B.
  • Poor infection control in health care facilities.

Although the virus can be found in saliva, it is not spread through kissing or sharing utensils. Hepatitis B is not spread through sneezing, coughing, hugging, breastfeeding, or food or water.

Who is at risk

While anyone can get hepatitis B, some people are at a higher risk.

This includes:

  • Infants born to people with hepatitis B.
  • People born in certain countries where hepatitis B is common.
  • People born in the US who were not vaccinated as infants and whose parents were born in countries with high rates of hepatitis B.

It also includes people who have medical conditions, such as:

  • People who have hepatitis C.
  • People who have sexually transmitted infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • People who are on dialysis.
  • People who have liver damage or inflammation.

Additionally, it includes:

  • People who have been in jail or prison.
  • People who inject drugs (PWID) or share needles, syringes, or other types of drug equipment.
  • Sex partners of people who have hepatitis B.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • People who live with someone who has hepatitis B.
  • Health care and public safety workers who are exposed to blood on the job.

Prevention tips

The best way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated. Hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective, and CDC recommends it for almost everyone.

If you are pregnant, there are steps you can take to protect your family:

  • Get tested: All pregnant people should get a blood test for hepatitis B as part of their prenatal care. This is because hepatitis B virus can be passed easily from pregnant person to child during a vaginal delivery or C-section.
  • Get your family tested and vaccinated: Your baby's family members and anyone else who lives in the household should get tested and vaccinated if needed. This is because the hepatitis B virus is very infectious and can pass between family members via blood, semen, or other body fluids.
  • Protect your baby:
    • All babies will get hepatitis B vaccine shortly after birth.
    • If you have hepatitis B, the baby should get another shot called hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG).
    • Your baby will get 3 or 4 shots in total, and they are all necessary to protect your baby from getting hepatitis B.
    • If you have hepatitis B, after your baby completes the hepatitis B vaccine series at about 9-12 months old, your baby will need a special test to make sure the shots were effective. The test is called post-vaccination serologic testing or PVST for short.

Preventing perinatal hepatitis B is important because most people with hepatitis B got infected as infants or young children when their immune systems were not fully developed.

Are you a perinatal health care provider?‎

For clinicians looking to learn more about perinatal HBV, see the clinical testing guidelines.

Why prevention is important

Chronic hepatitis B can lead to severe complications, including liver failure, liver cancer, and even death.

CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible receive hepatitis B vaccination to protect themselves.

Get vaccinated‎

Find out more information about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Before you travel

CDC recommends hepatitis B vaccine for all infants, children, adults through age 59, and adults age 60 and over with risk factors.

If you are planning to travel to a place where hepatitis B cases are high, make sure you are up to date on your routine vaccinations.


  • Hepatitis B Vaccine: Protect Your Baby for Life