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What Is Hepatitis?
Different Types of Hepatitis
How Viral Hepatitis Spreads
Is There a Vaccine?
How to Get Tested
Health Risks of Viral Hepatitis

 
How Viral Hepatitis Spreads 

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A virus is found in the feces of infected persons. It is usually spread from person to person by ingesting food or water contaminated with fecal matter.

Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted through:

  • Drinking contaminated water.
  • Being in close contact with an infected person.
  • Eating food that was handled by a person with the virus, who did not carefully wash their hands after using the bathroom.

Hepatitis B

Unfortunately, hepatitis B often has a stigma attached to it because it can be contracted through socially unaccepted behavior, such as injecting illegal drugs or engaging in unprotected sex.

However, many people do not realize that, most of the time, a person infected with hepatitis B is an innocent victim who has encountered the virus through:

  • Birth, when his or her mother who was infected with hepatitis B passed the virus on. (Most common)
  • A transfusion with blood that has not been screened for the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
  • Direct contact with blood from an open wound.
  • Sharing contaminated toothbrushes or razors.
  • Improperly cleaned tattooing needles.
  • Improperly cleaned medical or dental tools.

It is important to note that most people who are infected with hepatitis B have no symptoms, yet they can still transmit the disease and are at risk of developing liver cancer.

Hepatitis C

The mode of transmission for hepatitis C is similar to hepatitis B, however, there are a few differences. Hepatitis C virus is spread through:

  • Blood transfusions and organ transplants that have not been screened for hepatitis C.
  • Sharing of needles during injected drug use.
  • Birth: a small number infected mother can pass the virus to her baby.
  • Sexual contact: very rarely, hepatitis C can be spread through sex.

Misconceptions

Many misconceptions exist about hepatitis B and C, especially regarding the way in which it spreads. Hepatitis B and C cannot be transmitted by:

  • Food or water (however, hepatitis A can be transmitted in this manner).
  • Casual contact, such as hugging, shaking hands or kissing.
  • Sneezing or coughing.
  • Breastfeeding.

 

Learn how you can get the potentially lifesaving hepatitis B test.