How does hepatitis B cause liver disease?


Myths and facts


Knowing a bit about the hepatitis B virus can help you understand what is happening in your body and what your test results mean.

The main things to know are:

  • Your liver can be damaged by your immune system attacking the virus.
  • In acute hepatitis B, your immune system fights off the virus. Your liver can repair any damage and heal itself.
  • In chronic hepatitis B your immune system can’t totally fight off the virus. Liver damage and scarring can build up and lead to liver disease or cancer in some people.
  • Hepatitis B can be divided into 5 phases depending on what the virus and your immune system are doing. The phases don’t always happen in order and you may not have all of them.
  • When the virus is in your blood, it can be passed to someone else. There are phases where it is not present in your blood.
  • Your doctor can advise you on whether there is a risk of hepatitis B being passed on.


On this page:

Hepatitis B, your immune system and liver damage

Phases of hepatitis B