HBV: Hepatitis B virus. A virus which primarily causes inflammation of the liver. The hepatitis B virus can be transmitted in several ways including blood transfusion, needle sticks, body piercing and tattooing using unsterile instruments, dialysis, sexual and even less intimate close contact, and childbirth. Symptoms include fatigue, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, and light stools. Diagnosis is by blood test(s).
Treatment is with anti-viral drugs and/or hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG). Chronic hepatitis B may be treated with interferon. Healthcare workers accidentally exposed to materials infected with hepatitis B and individuals with known sexual contact with hepatitis B patients are usually given both HBIG and the hepatitis B vaccine to provide both immediate and long-term protection. HBV infection can be prevented by the hepatitis B vaccine, and by avoiding activities that could lead to contracting the virus.