Hepatitis B Prevention in Singapore: Hepatitis B is a virus that causes liver damage. It’s acquired through needles and sex. A vaccine and treatment are both available, though there’s no cure.
There is a vaccine available for hepatitis B. The vaccine is given in three doses, over a course of about six months. Anyone who may be exposed to bodily fluids, including healthcare workers, should definitely get this vaccine. It’s available to everyone, so if you want protection from hepatitis B, you can get this vaccine. In Singapore, hepatitis B vaccine has been recommended for all infants since 1987, meaning that babies now routinely receive the three doses of vaccine. If you were born in Singapore on or after 1 September 1987, then it’s likely that you’ve already received the hepatitis B vaccine.
Hepatitis B in Singapore is found in about 6% of the adult population. It’s expected that the virus will slowly disappear with the widespread use of the vaccine, but for now, hepatitis B still occurs in Singapore.
If you’re exposed to hepatitis B (for instance, through a needle stick), and you haven’t been vaccinated, receiving an injection of antibodies against hepatitis B virus can help to prevent the infection from taking hold in your body. At the same time, you should also receive the first dose of the vaccine, and continue with the other two doses of vaccine.
Hepatitis B infection can also be prevented by avoiding contact with the virus. This means avoiding contact with other people’s blood (such as through sharing needles, getting tattoos with unsterilized needles, or touching blood with ungloved hands). It also means avoiding contact with sexual fluids, so unless you and your partner are both monogamous, you should use a condom every single time you have sex.
Hepatitis B virus can be transmitted from mother to baby, either through the placenta during pregnancy, during childbirth, or through breastmilk. This is part of the reason that newborns are given hepatitis B vaccine immediately after birth, in case the mother is infected and doesn’t know it. If you’re a mother with hepatitis B, you can safely breastfeed your baby if he or she has received the hepatitis B vaccine as recommended.
Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through saliva. In some cases, family members have passed the virus to each other through sharing of personal items, such as toothbrushes or eating utensils. If you have hepatitis B or believe that you’ve been exposed, you should not share any personal items with anyone, for their protection.