1. Learn about HBV. Hepatitis B can be complicated, from understanding the test results to managing chronic infection to making treatment decisions. There are excellent resources available to help you. Start here with this guide, and then check out the “Hepatitis B Resources” page to learn more.
2. Get the hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. It’s a short-term (also called “acute”) infection that, while it will make you miserable, is rarely serious. However, if you live with HIV, HCV, or HBV, you should get vaccinated as it could make your liver disease worse. It’s a two shot sequence: After your first shot, you get the second one 6 months later.
3. Test for hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV. Co-infection with either disease can increase the risk of liver damage in a shorter amount of time. Knowing your status for HCV and HIV is also important for treatment decisions for all three viruses.
4. Avoid alcohol. Ideally, people with HBV should not drink alcohol. Too much alcohol alone can be very hard on the liver, and alcohol and viral hepatitis are not a good mix: It speeds up AND worsens HBV-related liver damage. Changing drinking habits is hard, so get the help and support you need to reduce or quit safely.
5. Eat well. People with liver disease should minimize their fat intake, as well as watch their sugar and sodium. The more fresh fruits and vegetables you can eat the better. Do not eat raw or undercooked shellfish. Talk with your medical provider or pharmacist before starting any vitamins, minerals, or herbal supplements.
6. Drink coffee. Coffee has been shown to both slow down liver disease and reduce the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. It’s not entirely clear why it works, but it does. Drinking 2–3 cups per day may improve your liver health.
7. Exercise. Check with your medical provider first to make sure it’s safe to exercise. Exercise will burn calories and burn fat, maintain or lose weight, and lower stress. Exercise also helps against feeling tired and may even improve your mood. You don’t have to do anything super difficult: Something as simple as 30 minutes a day can help.
8. Tell your sexual partners to test and see if they need to get vaccinated for HBV. As HBV can be transmitted sexually, talking to your sexual partners about HBV and preventing transmission is important. Sexual partners who have not been vaccinated against HBV should do so.
9. Practice safe injection and safe sex practices to avoid infecting others. As HBV can be transmitted through the sharing of injection equipment, talking to your drug-using partners about HBV and preventing transmission is important. Drug-sharing partners who have not been vaccinated against HBV should do so.
10. See your provider regularly and check for liver damage. You may not need HBV treatment; indeed, most people don’t need it. It is still important to get regular checkups to monitor your liver.