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Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver.  Symptoms and treatments differ depending on the type hepatitis virus a person is infected with.

Hepatitis A (HAV)

Hepatitis A is primarily transmitted by fecal-oral route, by either a person-to-person contact or through consumption of contaminated food or water.  Transmission of HAV during sexual activity likely occurs from fecal-oral contact.

Early symptoms of hepatitis A infection can be mistaken for the flu, but some sufferers, especially children, exhibit no symptoms at all. For those who experience symptoms, they may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice, yellowing of the skin or whites of eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dark amber urine and or light or clay-colored stool

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Hepatitis B (HBV) is transmitted by exposure to infected blood or body fluids that contain HBV. The primary risk factors associated with infection among adolescents and adults are unprotected sex with an infected partner, multiple partners, MSM, history of other STDs, and injection-drug use.

Untreated hepatitis B can result in acute liver failure, liver cancer and even death.

Pre-exposure hepatitis A and B vaccines are available. See your health care provider to review your vaccine status and obtain the vaccine, if needed. 

Hepatitis C (HCV)

Hepatitis C (HCV) is transmitted by exposure to infected blood by sharing needs or other equipment to inject drugs, blood donation, needle stick injury in the health care setting or birth to an HCV infected mother.  HCV can also be spread through sex with an HCV-infected person, although this happens infrequently.

For some people hepatitis C is a short-term illness, but for 70-80% of people who become infected it becomes a long-term, chronic condition that can result in significant health problems, even death. 

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C and the majority of infected persons are unaware of their infection because they do not experience symptoms or feel ill. 

The CDC recommends you get tested if you:

  • Were born between 1945 and 1965
  • Received blood from a donor who had HCV
  • Shared needles or injected drugs
  • Had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
  • Received a blood product used to treat clotting problem before 1987
  • Have HIV or were born to a mother with HCV
  • Have multiple sex partners or a sex partner with chronic hepatitis C

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