Chapter 18: Sexually transmitted infections
A person whose liver is diseased has hepatitis. Hepatitis B is a dangerous infection of
the liver caused by a virus. Hepatitis B is spread when the blood or other body fluids
from an infected person get into the body of a person who is not infected. Body fluids
include spit, wetness from the vagina, and semen. Hepatitis B spreads very easily from
one person to another, especially during sex. It can also spread from a pregnant
woman to her baby.
Signs of hepatitis (including hepatitis B)
• no appetite
• pain in the belly or nausea
• tired and weak feeling
• yellow eyes and sometimes yellow
skin (especially the palms of the
hands and soles of the feet)
• brown, cola-colored urine, and
stools that look whitish
• or no signs at all
There is no medicine that will help. In fact, taking
medicine can hurt the liver even more. But most
people recover from hepatitis B.
People with hepatitis B may feel better sooner if
they rest, eat foods that are easy to digest, and do
not drink any alcohol.
Hepatitis B and pregnancy
If a woman has signs of hepatitis B while she is pregnant, seek medical advice. The
baby will need vaccinations after birth to prevent infection with Hepatitis B.
Teaching women how to prevent STIs
Women should know that any sex partner may have an STI.
A man has a much greater chance of having an STI if he has
sex with other partners without using condoms.
Testing is the only sure way to know if a person has an
STI. Find out if there is affordable STI testing in your area,
and see page 379 to learn about testing women yourself.
The surest way for a woman to avoid getting an STI is for
her to avoid having sex with anyone who might be infected.
Or she can use condoms (for men or women) when she does have sex. Condoms
protect very well against most STIs, although there is always some chance of
getting an STI even with a condom.
Midwives can help protect women from HIV and hepatitis B by sterilizing any
syringes or other tools used during birth or invasive procedures. See page 59.
A Book for Midwives (2010)