How can hepatitis B be prevented?
Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease.
In Australia, it is recommended that babies are vaccinated at birth and then at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. The vaccination is provided free as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Immunisation is also recommended for all healthcare workers in Australia and for those travelling overseas to regions where the disease is more prevalent. The vaccine is an important preventative measure for Australians travelling to developing countries, where health standards may be lower, putting travellers at risk if they suffer injuries or an accident that requires a visit to a hospital. Australian travellers are advised to visit their General Practitioner (GP) or travel medicine specialist 4-6 weeks before travelling overseas to discuss suitable vaccination options.
Vaccination is also recommended for individuals who may take part in high risk activities, such as unprotected sex with new partners, those receiving tattoos or piercings in countries with lower sanitation practices or those who practice drug use (sharing of needles).
Women considering becoming pregnant should talk to their healthcare professional about prenatal screening for hepatitis B.
It also recommended to always practice safe sex (i.e. using condoms), especially with new partners or if you have sex with several partners, and to not use illegal drugs and/or share needles.
Sources & Citations
- NSW Government, Department of Health, Hepatitis B fact sheet. Available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/hepatitis_b.aspx (accessed 5 April 2018).
- Victorian State Government, Better Health Channel, Hepatitis B. Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/hepatitis-b (accessed 5 April 2018).
- World Health Organisation, Global Hepatitis Report, 2017. Available at http://www.who.int/hepatitis/publications/global-hepatitis-report2017/en/ (accessed 6 April 2018).
SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0173a - Date of preparation May 2018