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.
For more information on viral hepatitis in Hawaii, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org.