Viral hepatitis refers to a collection of very different viruses that can all affect the liver. There are three main hepatitis viruses: hepatitis A, B and C.
Hepatitis A: Basic Information
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is spread through fecal/oral contact when fecal matter infected with hepatitis A enters the body through the mouth. The most common way to get hepatitis A is through close personal contact or through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis A an acute or short term disease and there is a vaccine available to prevent infection.
Hepatitis B: Basic Information
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is spread through blood and other bodily fluids. The most common way to get hepatitis B is through unprotected sex or from mother to baby. Hepatitis B is usually an acute or short term disease though some people develop chronic, or long term hepatitis B. There is a vaccine available to prevent infection.
Hepatitis C: Basic Information
Hepatitis C virus is spread through direct blood-to-blood contact. The most common way to get hepatitis C is through sharing injection drug use equipment or getting a blood transfusion prior to 1992. Hepatitis C is usually a chronic, or long term infection and there is no vaccine available to protect against hepatitis C.
The Department of Health works closely with local coalition Hep Free Hawaii to address the needs of hepatitis prevention in Hawaii. We are currently developing an integrated strategic plan to meet the specific needs of our community, which will update the previous Hawaii Hepatitis C Strategic Plan (2003).
For more information on viral hepatitis in Hawaii, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org.