Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
The hepatitis B virus is known as a blood-borne virus because it is
transmitted from one person to another via blood or fluids contaminated with
blood. Another important route of transmission is from an infected mother to a
newborn child, which occurs during or shortly after birth.
Direct contract with blood may occur through the use of dirty needles
during illicit drug use, inadvertent needle sticks experienced by healthcare
workers, or contact with blood through other means. Semen, which contain small
amounts of blood, and saliva that is contaminated with blood also carry the
The virus may be transmitted when these fluids come in contact with broken
skin or a mucous membrane (in the mouth, genital organs, or rectum) of an
People who are at an increased risk of being infected with the hepatitis B
virus include the following:
Men or women who have multiple sex partners, especially if they don't use a
Men who have sex with men
Men or women who have sex with a person infected with hepatitis B virus