Hep, Hep A, HAV, Hep B, HBV, Hep C, HCV

There are three main types of Hepatitis in the United States, Hepatitis A, B and C. Common symptoms of all three are flu-like and include weakness and fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain in the abdomen, fever and joint pain, and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Hepatitis A still occurs in the United States, although not as frequently as it once did. Over the last 20 years, there has been more than a 90% decrease in Hepatitis A cases. New cases are now estimated to be around 20,000 each year. Many experts believe this decline is a result of the vaccination of children and people at risk for Hepatitis A.

In the United States, approximately 1.2 million people have chronic Hepatitis B. Most people do not know they are infected. An estimated 40,000 people now become infected each year. The number of new cases of Hepatitis B has decreased more than 80% over the last 20 years. Many experts believe this decline is a result of widespread vaccination of children.

An estimated 3.2 million people in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C. Most are unaware of their infection. Each year, about 17,000 Americans become infected with Hepatitis C.

The word "hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is most often caused by a virus. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications and certain medical conditions can also cause hepatitis.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV), lasting from a few weeks to several months. People most often become infected through ingesting fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from close person-to-person contact or ingestion of contaminated food or drinks.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). It ranges in severity from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term (chronic) illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

HBV is transmitted by contact with infected blood, semen, and other body fluids from having sex with an infected person, sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs, or from an infected mother to her newborn.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV infection sometimes results in an acute illness, but most often becomes a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Hepatitis C is the most common cause of liver transplantation.

HCV is transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person, primarily through sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs. Transmission can sometimes occur through sexual contact.

Your risk of hepatitis A is increased if you travel to regions with higher rates of Hep A, are a man who has sex with men, used illicit (not prescribed by a health care professional) drugs, or you live with someone who has Hep A.

The risk of hepatitis B is increased if you have unprotected sex with more than one partner, have sex with someone who has Hep B, have another STD, a man who has sex with men, share needles, or live with someone who has Hep B.

The risk of hepatitis C is increases if you receive a tattoo with unsterile needles or in an unclean environment, inject illicit drugs, or are HIV positive.

Vaccination is the best mode of prevention along with the surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases…abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

Transmission of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) during sexual activity occurs due to fecal-oral contact or contamination. Measures typically used to prevent the transmission of other STDs, use of condoms do not prevent HAV transmission. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing HAV transmission among persons at risk for infection.

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all children starting at age 1, travelers to certain countries, and others at risk.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all infants, older children and adolescents who were not vaccinated previously, and adults at risk for HBV infection.

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

Although not common, HCV can be transmitted through sexual activity. The factors found to be associated with sexual transmission of HCV are sex with multiple partners, presence of other STDs, or sex with trauma.

People infected with hepatitis A usually require only supportive care, with no restrictions in diet or activity. Hospitalization might be necessary for those who become dehydrated because of nausea and vomiting and is critical for patients with signs or symptoms of liver failure. Medications that might cause liver damage or are metabolized by the liver should be used with caution among persons with hepatitis A.

There is no specific treatment available for people with acute (short-term) hepatitis B; treatment is supportive. People with chronic (long-term) HBV infection should go to a doctor experienced in chronic liver disease.

Hepatitis C is difficult to diagnose and can be difficult to treat. Often, combinations of medicines are used to help stop the virus from multiplying in your body. Those with HCV should consult with specialists knowledgeable about management of the infection.


Last Updated On December, 18, 2010