Viral hepatitis is a liver infection. It is caused by 5 different viruses. These are:

Hepatitis
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Hepatitis A

It is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is linked to poor sanitation, raw sewage, untreated water, and poor hygiene. It is passed from stool to mouth. This can happen by:

  • Eating or drinking anything contaminated with HAV such as shellfish or raw vegetables (even if they are frozen)
  • Poor hand washing—especially after changing a diaper or using the bathroom
  • Caring for someone who is sick
  • Anal, or oral to anal sex

Hepatitis A goes away on its own. The immune system gives lifetime protection against HAV after recovery.

Hepatitis B

It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV is spread by contact with bodily fluids from someone who has or carries it. This includes blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva. This can happen by:

  • Having sex
  • Using IV drugs or sharing needles
  • Getting blood transfusions
  • Giving birth—A woman with HBV can pass to the baby during childbirth
  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, or other personal hygiene items
  • Having a job that involves contact with bodily fluids such as healthcare

In most people, hepatitis B goes away on its own. It can lead to a long-term infection with more serious complications.

Hepatitis C

It is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is spread through contact with contaminated blood. This can happen by:

  • Using IV drugs or sharing needles
  • Having a job that involves contact with blood such as healthcare
  • Getting blood products or an organ transplant, or through other medical treatments
  • Having sex
  • Giving birth—A woman with HCV can pass to the baby during childbirth

Hepatitis C goes away on its own in some people. But in most cases, it is long-term infection with more serious complications.

Hepatitis D

It is caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). It only happens in people who have hepatitis B and is spread by:

  • Using IV drugs or sharing needles
  • Having a job that involves contact with blood such as healthcare
  • Having sex

Hepatitis E

It is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). HEV is linked to untreated drinking water. It is passed by stool to mouth contact. This can happen by:

  • Drinking contaminated water—most common
  • Eating or drinking anything contaminated with HEV
  • Eating raw or partially cooked shellfish or meat contaminated with HEV
  • Giving birth—A woman with HEV can pass to the baby during childbirth

Hepatitis E goes away on its own. Hepatitis E rare in the US, but is common in countries with a poor water supply.

Complications of hepatitis include chronic liver disease, liver cancer, or liver failure.

Complications of hepatitis include chronic liver disease, liver cancer, or liver failure.

What are the risk factors for hepatitis?What are the symptoms of hepatitis?How is hepatitis diagnosed?What are the treatments for hepatitis?Are there screening tests for hepatitis?How can I reduce my risk of hepatitis?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with hepatitis?Where can I get more information about hepatitis?

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