Hepatitis A, B and C

“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A, B and C are the most common forms of viral hepatitis. While similarly named, hepatitis A, B and C are all separate viruses. Having one form of viral hepatitis does not create immunity to the others, nor does any form of hepatitis develop into another. Often times those affected by viral hepatitis do not experience any symptoms, however, if symptoms do appear they and are non-specific and can include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle ache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine and pale bowel movements, stomach pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Hepatitis A (HAV)

Hepatitis A is spread when a person ingests fecal matter from contact with contaminated food or drinks or close personal contact with an infected person (this can include sexual contact). Hepatitis A does not develop into a chronic infection, however symptoms are present. The symptoms generally resolve within a few weeks; more severe cases last a few months. It is recommended to follow up with a doctor if you have come into contact with hepatitis A; rest and hydration are encouraged.

Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccine; check with your doctor to determine if you have immunity.

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Hepatitis B can result in either an acute or chronic infection. An acute infection, means that the virus goes away naturally within 6 months post exposure.  A chronic infection is a life long illness and can lead to advanced liver disease. Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen or vaginal floods from an infected individual enter another person’s body.  Common ways for transmission include sexual contact, injection drug use, birth to an infected mother, contact with blood or open sores of an infected individual.

Hepatitis B cannot be cured. For some patients, antiviral treatment is available to suppress the virus and prevent the progression of liver disease to cirrhosis and or liver cancer. Treatment is not always recommended. Regular follow up with your doctor is encouraged for proper monitoring and to determine the best plan for your personal care.

Hepatitis B is preventable by vaccine; check with your doctor to determine if you have immunity.

Hepatitis C (HCV)

Hepatitis C is a transmittable liver disease that can result in either acute or chronic infection. It is transmitted from the blood of an infected individual entering into the bloodstream of another. Prior to 1992, hepatitis C was commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. However, now the most frequent route of transmission is through the sharing of contaminated injection drug use equipment.

For those who develop a chronic infection, left untreated, Hepatitis C can result in advanced liver disease including cirrhosis or liver cancer. New medications; known as direct acting antivirals (DAA’s) offer a safe and effective way to cure hepatitis C. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment option and plan for your personal medical care.

Unlike hepatitis A and B, hepatitis C is not preventable by vaccine.

Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C Co-infection

Some individuals are living with both hepatitis B and hepatitis C, the presence of two viruses is known as co-infection. When both viruses are present, this can lead to increased risk of disease progression. When considering treatment for both HBV and/or HCV each virus needs to be evaluated individually by your doctor. In some cases, treatment may not be recommended for Hepatitis B.

For co-infected individuals, it is important that your doctor monitor hepatitis B especially during the course of hepatitis C treatment. There have been recent cases that hepatitis B has been reactivated while on hepatitis C treatment which has resulted in both mild and serious injuries. If you are concerned about this, follow up with your doctor before making any changes to your personal care.

For those who are unsure whether they are living with HBV, talk to your doctor about proper screening. The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases/Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidance Panel recently updated guidelines, recommending that anyone who will be starting HCV treatment needs to be screened for HBV in order to prevent potential injuries by reactivating HBV if it is present.1-2

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References

Comments

View Comments (1)

Poll