Hepatitis B Clinical Research
Do you know why hepatitis B clinical research is so important? There is no cure for a chronic infection and an estimated 10-30 million contract it each year. By conducting hepatitis B clinical research trials, we’re looking to improve available treatments and learn more about this disease.
Want to help us? Fill out our online form to see if you qualify for one of our hepatitis B clinical trials in Birmingham →
What is Hepatitis B?
Although we haven’t discovered a cure (yet), hepatitis B clinical research has taught us a lot. Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver that is spread through contact with the blood, body fluids, or open sores of an individual having the hepatitis B virus.
Most cases do not last long: the body is able to fight the infection in a relatively short amount of time, and once it does so an infected individual is immune for life. The virus may cause scarring or failure of the liver, and potentially cancer. If left untreated, hepatitis B can be fatal.
Hepatitis B Transmission
Hepatitis B is considered a blood-borne virus since it is passed via contaminated blood or fluid coming into contact with blood. This may occur through the use of dirty needles, either for illicit drug use or inadvertently in the healthcare environment.
Hepatitis B clinical research has shown that both semen and saliva can also carry the virus. The virus must come into contact with a mucous membrane in the body or an open wound for infection to occur.
The following may put you at higher risk of hepatitis B infection:
- Having multiple sex partners, especially without proper condom usage
- Men having sex with other men, especially without proper condom usage
- Sex with a person infected with the hepatitis B virus
- Injecting drugs or sharing needles
- Organ transplants or blood transfusions
- Dialysis for kidney disease
- Infants born to infected mothers
- Travelling to areas outside the United States where hepatitis B is common
Hepatitis B cannot be transferred through non-fluid related contact such as hugging, grabbing a door handle after someone, breastfeeding, or sharing food or water.
According to the CDC, incidents of hepatitis B infection have decreased since the 1980s. Due to a variety of factors, people between the ages of 20-49 are most susceptible to infection. An estimated 1.4 million people in the United States carry the virus.
Hepatitis B Symptoms
Symptoms of hepatitis B include the following:
- Appetite loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark urine
- Bodily itching
- Pain in the area of the liver
- Grayish stool
Nearly half of all infected persons don’t experience any symptoms of the hepatitis B virus. Symptoms are more common in adults than children. Initial symptoms can often appear like the flu, and usually show up 1-4 months after infection. Viral hepatitis A and C have symptoms that are identical to hepatitis B.
Fulminate hepatitis is an acute form of hepatitis that is very rare but can be fatal if not treated immediately. Symptoms tend to be sudden and include:
- Sudden collapse with fatigue
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Mental disturbances like confusion, lethargy, extreme sleepiness, or hallucinations
Diagnosing Hepatitis B
If your doctor thinks you may have contracted the hepatitis B virus, they will give you a full physical examination as well as blood tests that check for the virus or antibodies that fight hepatitis B. They may also take a biopsy of your liver if there is potential for a chronic infection, which can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, and even death.
If you fear that you’ve been exposed to the virus, go to a doctor as quickly as possible. They will give you a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin as well as a vaccine. If you do get sick, bed rest may be ordered to aid your recovery. During this time, be sure to eat a healthy diet, give up harmful agents to your liver like alcohol and acetaminophen, and check with your doctor before taking any drugs or medication.
If the infection goes away, you will be considered an “inactive carrier”. If the infection lasts longer than 6 months, you will be informed that you have chronic hepatitis B, and you may be given a variety of medications to treat it.
The Hepatitis B Vaccine
If you have passed the virus onto your baby during pregnancy and it does not receive proper treatment, long-term liver problems could develop. All newborns from infected mothers should get the vaccine as well as the hepatitis B immunoglobulin during their first year.
The best way to prevent infection is to get the hepatitis B vaccine, which is safe and effective and usually administered in 3-4 shots over a 6 month period.
Who should consider getting a hepatitis B vaccine?
- Babies with infected mothers
- People with multiple sexual partners
- Children under the age of 19
- Persons with other sexually transmitted infections
- People who share needles
- Healthcare workers
- People with end-stage renal disease
- Travelers to areas with moderate levels of hepatitis B
- People living with HIV
- Just about anyone wishing to protect themselves from the hepatitis B virus
(Children should get their first dose of the vaccine and complete the series by 18 months of age.)
If all doses are completed in the time recommended by doctors (6 months), the hepatitis B vaccine is extremely effective at preventing infection. Thanks to hepatitis B clinical research, there is also a combination vaccine available to protect from both hepatitis A and B.
Hepatitis B Clinical Trials in Birmingham, Alabama
Achieve Clinical Research plans to conduct several hepatitis B clinical studies over the next few years. Our research team is working hard to gain a better understanding of this chronic and widespread infection. This knowledge will allow us to produce better treatments for hepatitis B.
You may be eligible to participate in one of our hepatitis B clinical trials and contribute to the development and approval of a new drug or form of therapy. There is no cost to participate in one of our studies and health insurance is not required.
If you have never taken part in one before, we suggest that you spend some time looking through our resource section– available here.
Have more questions? Call us (205) 757-8208 and our clinical trial experts will find the study best suited for you.