“How Did You Get Hepatitis B?” Why We Should Answer

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Telling someone you have hepatitis B is almost always followed by the question, “how did you get it?”

The question can feel like an invasion of privacy or an indictment. Behind the question lurks a desire for reassurance that hepatitis B won’t happen to them, but of course it can. And that’s why we should answer and tell our story.

On a global scale, the story of hepatitis B is the story of humanity. How we and our forebears became infected results from centuries of human migrations, the transatlantic slave trade, political upheaval, poverty, re-used medical devices and ineffective public health policies. Continue reading

The Hepatitis B Patient Community Loses Its “Mom”

Hep B List "parents" Sheree Martin and Steve Bingham at a 2005 patient conference.

Hep B List “parents” Sheree Martin and Steve Bingham at a 2005 patient conference.

The hepatitis B community recently lost its much-loved advocate, resource and “mom,” Sheree Martin. She was co-owner of the Hepatits B Information and Support List from 1998 to 2011 and comforter and consultant to thousands of people around the world who live with hepatitis B.

The reach of her kindness and wisdom cannot be under-estimated. In the early days of hepatitis B, when medical treatment was misguided and stigma ran rife, Sheree nurtured a safe, online community that provided reassurance and accurate medical information. For many, it was the first time they were able to share the confusion, loneliness and frustration of living with chronic hepatitis B with people just like them. Continue reading

Preparing for College, Dating and Disclosing Hepatitis B

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When my daughter, who has chronic hepatitis B, packed for her freshman year of college, I peppered her with warnings about the need for standard precautions and condoms. I suggested wording for a future conversation where she would disclose her infection and negotiate safe sex with a potential partner.

I hoped these verbal dress rehearsals would empower and protect her, especially if that potential boyfriend turned her down. I wanted her to know that any rejection would not be about her or her hepatitis B, it would be about his fears. Continue reading

Summertime Strategies to Protect Your Liver: Enjoy a Dose of Sunlight and Vitamin D

Grace Wong, associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Grace Wong, associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Catching 15 minutes of sunlight three times a week and drinking water instead of sugary drinks are two of the easiest and most natural ways to protect against liver cancer and other types of liver damage when you live with hepatitis B.

Sunlight doesn’t cure hepatitis B, but it spurs production of vitamin D, which appears to help prevent a number of cancers and other liver problems.

The liver appears to play a vital role in metabolizing vitamin D, and when you have healthy vitamin D levels, your body’s cells behave and grow normally. But when you have a vitamin D deficiency, communication between your cells breaks down, which can lead to abnormal cell growth and cancer. Continue reading

Celebrate World Hepatitis Day By Making Hepatitis B History

Joan M. Block, Co-Founder and Executive Director

Joan M. Block, Co-Founder and Executive Director

By Joan M. Block, RN, BSN
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Hepatitis B Foundation

Tuesday, July 28, is World Hepatitis Day, which commemorates the birthday of Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for identifying the hepatitis B virus and developing a vaccine to prevent it. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the hepatitis B virus – a discovery that has literally saved hundreds of millions of lives.
Continue reading