Understanding Viral Hepatitis

As many as 6.9 million Americans could be living with viral hepatitis – and many are unaware that they have it. There are three common types of viral hepatitis with similar symptoms: hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Each has different transmission methods and at-risk populations.

Hepatitis A

What is it? Hepatitis A is a liver infection that can vary from a mild illness that lasts a few weeks to a severe illness that lasts months.

How it spreads: From person to person when the virus is ingested after contact with food, drinks or objects contaminated by feces from an infected person.

How it is prevented: A safe and effective vaccine is available for children at one year of age and for at-risk adults.

Hepatitis B

What is it? Hepatitis B is a liver disease resulting from a hepatitis B viral infection that can lead to lifelong illness if the infection occurs as an infant.

How it spreads: The virus is transmitted through sex with, contact with blood of or sharing needles with an infected person. It can also be passed from the mother to a baby at birth.

How it is prevented: A safe and effective vaccine is available for children at birth.

Hepatitis C

What is it? Hepatitis C is a liver disease resulting from a hepatitis C viral infection that can lead to chronic infection and liver problems.

How it spreads: The most common transmission of hepatitis C is through sharing of needles with an infected person. More rarely, hepatitis C is also transmitted sexually or from an infected mother to their infant at birth.

How it is prevented: There is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C. The best method of prevention is to never share needles, avoid direct exposure to blood and to practice safe sex. People born 1945-1965 are most likely to have hepatitis C. The CDC recommends anyone who is at risk to get tested for hepatitis C.

Are you at risk for hepatitis?

Speak with your primary medical provider to discuss your options for screening and testing.

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