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Hepatitis B symptoms

Many people don’t have any symptoms when they are first infected with hepatitis B. People that do have symptoms or signs may get:

Long term effects of hepatitis B

The course of hepatitis B infection depends mostly on the age at which a person is infected.

People infected at birth or in early childhood are likely to develop long term (chronic) infection and can get complications such as scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) or liver cancer.

People infected as teenagers and adults have a 50% chance of becoming unwell with symptoms (acute hepatitis). The other 50% develop a silent infection, without any symptoms.

Most people infected as adults (approximately 95%) clear the virus from the body within six months. They develop immunity to future hepatitis B infections and do not develop long-term liver damage.

However, approximately 5% of adults can’t clear the virus and develop chronic hepatitis B. They are at risk of developing complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer in the longer term.

Sources: Australian Immunisation Handbook, 2013; G. f. sheet, Hepatitis B, 2012; W. m. c. 2013, Hepatitis B fact sheet; World Health Organissation (WHO)

Last reviewed: August 2015

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