What you need to know:
- Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus, is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enter the body of someone who is not infected through sexual intercourse, sharing needles, or during pregnancy or childbirth.
We are newly-wed but my wife has tested positive for hepatitis B even though I am negative. Can she be vaccinated against the disease? SK
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus, is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enter the body of someone who is not infected through sexual intercourse, sharing needles, or during pregnancy or childbirth.
The Hepatitis B vaccine, given on the upper arm through three injections (at 0,1, and 6 months) can prevent hepatitis B infection for life. The vaccine is only given if one’s blood is checked first and one is found without the virus.
Since your wife already has hepatitis B infection, she will not benefit from taking the vaccine and, therefore, does not require being immunised. It is only you who requires to get immunised if you were not immunised before and you are not yet infected with the virus. It is also important that you stop engaging in sexual intercourse with her until you go for checks and get immunised.
Upon starting immunisation, you should still practice safe sex using a condom until further checks by the doctor (at least a month after your third injection) to see whether you have enough antibodies to protect you against hepatitis B infection. You should at the same time not share toothbrushes or sharp objects such as razorblades.
Hepatitis B discordant couples can have unprotected sex after the partner who tested negative is properly immunized. However, they should still visit their doctor for advice before, during and after the wife gets pregnant.
Your wife should avoid taking alcohol or unprescribed drugs including panadol and should also avoid smoking cigarettes. She should also eat a healthy, balanced diet, and be physically active. She should also keep seeing her doctor often to monitor the hepatitis with a view of intervening medically if the germ starts growing faster and affecting the liver.