What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. The most common types are Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV). If untreated, hepatitis can cause liver damage, liver failure or liver cancer.
Hepatitis is a serious liver disease that can be spread through sex with an infected person. Men who have sexual contact with other men are at increased risk for both Hepatitis A and B. But protecting yourself is easy. Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B. Call the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County for more information, 352-540-6897 or 352-540-6800.
Know your risk, take the free Hepatitis Risk Assessment here.
Did you know
Hepatitis is called the silent killer because a person may carry the virus in their body for up to 6 months without having any symptoms.
CDC estimates that 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most don't know they're infected.
According to the CDC, HBV is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV and can be passed through sexual intercourse.
Are you at risk?
Although anyone can contract Hepatitis, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:
Have sexual contact with an infected person
If you were born between 1945 - 1965
Have multiple sex partners
Have a sexually transmitted disease
Are men who have sexual encounters with other men
Inject drugs or share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment
Live with a person who has Hepatitis
Are on hemodialysis
Are exposed to blood on the job
Are infants born to infected mothers
Hepatitis A (HAV)
Although HAV is contagious, people usually improve without treatment. HAV develops as an acute (short term) illness only. It does not become a chronic (long term) illness.
HAV is transmitted via the following routes:
Sex with an infected person (especially oral-anal contact)
When an infected person doesn't wash his/her hands after using the bathroom and touches food or other objects
When a caregiver doesn't wash his/her hands after changing a diaper or cleaning up the stool of an infected person
Contaminated food or water
Vaccines are available to prevent HAV. Contact your doctor or the health department about getting tested and/or vaccinated.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
HBV is usually spread when blood, semen, or another body fluid from an infected person comes into contact with a non-infected person. This can happen through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, sharing needles or syringes and tattoos or body piercing. HBV can also be passed from an infected mother to her newborn during birth.
HBV can be either acute or chronic. Acute Hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the virus. Acute infection can, but does not always lead to chronic infection. Chronic HBV is a long-term illness that occurs when the virus remains in a persons body, which can cause long-term health problems and even death.
The best way to prevent contracting HBV is to get vaccinated. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that the following persons be vaccinated against Hepatitis B:
All infants, beginning at birth
All children aged 19 years who have not been vaccinated previously
Susceptible sex partners of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive persons
Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (e.g., 1 sex partner during the previous 6 months)
Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
Men who have sex with men
Injection drug users
Susceptible household contacts of HBsAg-positive persons
Health care and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
Persons with HIV infection
All other persons seeking protection from HBV infection
Contact your healthcare provider or the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County for more information on prevention, testing and vaccinations.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has become the leading cause of death from liver disease and the most frequent indication of liver transplantation in the United States. Most HCV-infected persons in the U.S. acquired the virus by intravenous drug use. However, a significant number were infected because of contaminated blood transfusions prior to the routine testing of the U.S. blood supply in 1992. Other routes of infection include high-risk sexual behavior, infected organs from transplant donors, occupational exposure, unsafe medical practices and mother to-infant transmission.
Although, there is no vaccine to prevention HCV, there have been substantial strides in HCV treatment success in the past few years. Talk with your health care provider or contact the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County about screening for HCV and/or treatment options.