Hepatitis ABCs

Hepatits
Hepatitis A [HAV]: This is a liver infection that is spread orally by ingesting something has been contaminated with fecal matter containing the Hepatitis A Virus. Poor sanitary conditions or careless personal hygiene can help spread the virus. Most infections arise through contact with an infected household member or sexual partner. Outbreaks have also occurred in restaurants and daycare centers.

Symptoms can include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever. Immediate contact of your health care provider is important when experiencing any of these symptoms.

Vaccines are available for Hepatitis A. There is a vaccine for children two years of age and older as well as adults.

Hepatitis B [HBV]: a serious, but preventable disease. This virus can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver failure.

No Cure, but treatment and vaccines are available for children and adults.

Means of Exposure: exposure to the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. This can occur when:

  • You have unprotected sex with an HBV-infected person
  • You share needles and syringes
  • Healthcare workers and first responders are exposed to needlesticks
  • Babies are born to HBV infected mothers You share certain household items such as razors with an infected person

If you are at risk for HBV you can also be at high risk for Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis B vaccines are available for children and adults.

Hepatitis C [HCV]: This is the most blood-borne disease in the United States. Hepatitis C virus can not only severely damage your liver, but HCV can cause liver cancer and is a leading cause of liver transplantation.

Possible causes of HCV infection:

  • Receipt of blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before 1992
  • Receipt of clotting factors made before 1987
  • Any injection of illegal drugs [even once years ago!]
  • Being on kidney dialysis
  • Being a healthcare worker or first responder
  • Having unprotected sex with an infected partner
  • Having had tattoos or body piercings with reusable needles
  • Being born to an HCV-positive mother

There is no vaccine for HCV. There is no cure, but treatments are available.

Resources:
www.cdc.gov/hepatitis