Without treatment you may be at greater risk of developing serious liver disease or liver cancer. One in four people with chronic hepatitis B will die as a result of the condition. However, because the virus goes through different phases, it is not always damaging your liver. In some people the hepatitis B virus is there but it is not causing any damage - it is sleeping. It can stay sleeping for a long time, but it can also wake up at any time and start causing damage to your liver.

This is why not everyone with hepatitis B needs treatment. But, if the virus wakes up and starts damaging your liver, you may need to start treatment. Generally, as people living with hepatitis B age, the likelihood of liver damage and need for antiviral treatment increases.

It’s very important to get regular liver check-ups (every six months) to determine if and when you need treatment.

Find out more about hepatitis B treatment

Find out more about liver checks for hepatitis B


ASHM. (2014). B Positive: All you wanted to know about hepatitis B. Darlinghurst, NSW: ASHM.

Cancer Council Victoria. (n.d.). Hepatitis and liver cancer. Retrieved from Cancer Council Victoria.

Updated 11 December 2020