There are three different kinds of hepatitis, some of which are spread more easily than others. Hepatitis A, B and C can all be transmitted sexually, however hepatitis B is the type most likely to be sexually transmitted. All types of hepatitis are serious and affect the liver. Hepatitis B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer and are the most common reason for liver transplants.
Many people have hepatitis and don’t know it. Everyone does not have immediate symptoms. Some common symptoms are:
- Yellow skin or eyes
- No appetite (they don’t want to eat)
- Feeling extremely tired
- Brown or dark urine (pee)
- Light or gray stools
- Pain in the stomach, muscles or joints
- 17,000 new cases of hepatitis A
- 38,000 new cases of hepatitis B, and
- 17,000 new cases of hepatitis C.
About 3.2 million people in the US are chronically infected with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis B and C infections happen due to:
- Unprotected sex
- Sharing needles
- Exposure to blood, semen, and vaginal fluids.
Hepatitis is a strong virus, and can survive outside the body. To reduce risks avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, and other items that may have body fluids on them.
Hepatitis B often does not require treatment. Most people fully recover within a few weeks. Some will develop a chronic infection that can be treated with antiviral medications.
Most people with hepatitis C develop chronic infection – medications such as interferon and ribavirin can significantly improve liver function and quality of life.
- Take antiviral medication
- Eliminate/reduce injection drug use
- Seek substance abuse treatment
- Practice safer sex with condoms