Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world. It is a virus that specifically attacks cells in the liver. Globally, there are nearly 300 million people living with chronic hepatitis B. Additionally, it has been estimated that about 2 billion people have been infected with hepatitis B (either acute or chronic). There are other viruses that may attack the liver such as hepatitis A, C, D and E, but each virus is unique. Fortunately, there is a vaccine to prevent new hepatitis B infections and excellent treatments for those that need treatment.
Hepatitis B can result in either an acute or chronic infection. When a person is newly infected, it is called an “acute” infection. If the person continues to test positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) for longer than 6 months, then it is considered a chronic infection. Testing is the only way to know for sure if a person is infected with hepatitis B, and if they have acute or chronic infection.