Can Hepatitis B be Transmitted Through Kissing?
HBV is transmitted through direct blood-to-blood contact. One of the main routes of contagion is the sharing of drug material, both intravenous and of another type (for example, syringes, spoons, tourniquets, straws to snort cocaine and pipes for crack). The needles used to make tattoos and body piercing can also transmit the virus. The sharing of personal items such as razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers is less dangerous, but still thus are potential routes of transmission. This happens when a small amount of blood infected with HBV remains in an article after using it and it goes on to be used by another person.
In the past many people contracted hepatitis B through blood transfusions; however, from 1972 onwards, donated blood was analyzed to detect HBV, and since 1992 another test has been performed to detect HCV. Nowadays, blood transfusions are considered safe. Health workers can become infected with HBV at pricking yourself with syringes or other accidental exposure to blood in the workplace.
HBV is present in semen and vaginal secretions, so hepatitis B can be transmitted through sexual activity. HBV is much more likely to be sexually transmitted than HCV. The CDC estimates that most new infections in the United States may have been transmitted sexually. The contagion can be more likely during the female menstrual period.
The transmission rates of HBV are particularly high among men who have sex with other men.
Perinatal transmission of mothers infected with HBV to their children before or during delivery represents the majority of infections in those areas where HBV is endemic. The contagion is more likely if the mother has a high viral load of HBV in the blood; mothers co-infected with HCV or HIV in addition to HBV are also more likely to transmit hepatitis B to their children. Although the surface antigen of HBV, a virus particle, is present in breast milk, there is no evidence that hepatitis B is spread through breastfeeding if the infant is vaccinated.
Studies indicate that HBV transmission is common among young children in areas where the virus is endemic, probably by scratching and biting. Although HBV is detectable in the saliva, there are no known cases of infection by sneezing, coughing, kissing, or sharing food utensils or glasses; the transmission of HBV in the domestic environment is extremely rare. There are no documented cases of HBV transmission through urine, feces, sweat, tears, or vomiting. In at least one third of cases, the patients do not present identifiable risk factors and the route of transmission of hepatitis B is not known.
HBV Prevention Guidelines
Get vaccinated against hepatitis B (complete at least 3 doses scheme).
Babies of mothers infected with HBV should receive the hepatitis B vaccine and anti-HBV immunoglobulin (HBIG) on the same day as the birth.
Practice sex with protection, using condoms and latex barriers.
Do not share syringes to inject drugs; get new needles in a syringe exchange program or, if you cannot avoid sharing them, clean them well with chlorine.
Do not share the drug tools, such as cocaine straws or crack pipes.
Tattoo, body piercing and acupuncture professionals should use new needles with each client.
The manicure and barbershops professionals must disinfect the utensils between one and another client or use disposable articles of an only use.
Do not share personal items such as razor blades, toothbrushes, nail clippers or earrings.
For healthcare professionals it implies to practice universal precautions in health centers, including the use of latex gloves.
Properly dispose of used needles, bandages and menstrual supplies; clean and disinfect body fluids that spill.
Cover all cuts, wounds and rashes.
Although the presence of small amounts of HBV has been found in saliva, the blood has higher levels of this virus. Infection occurs when infected blood come into direct contact with another person’s fluids. A carrier is more likely to infect another person when they kiss, only if they have open wounds in or around the mouth.
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