Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: July 2017 - The ABCs of Hepatitis

    July 28, 2017

    What is Hepatitis?
    Hepatitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the liver. The most common kinds of hepatitis are known as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.They may sound alike, but a different virus causes each disease. Although the symptoms for all three are similar, you get each in different ways and they affect the liver in different ways.

    Symptoms can include:

    • Fever
    • Being really tired
    • Not wanting to eat
    • Feeling sick to your stomach
    • Throwing up
    • Stomach pain
    • Joint paint
    • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)

    What is Hepatitis A?
    Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus.

    Hepatitis A is easy to get from:

    • Dirty food or water
    • Human or animal waste (feces)
    • Having close, personal contact with someone who has the illness, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill.

    Treatment: There are no drugs that treat hepatitis A. But, there is a vaccination to prevent it. All children should get the shot when they turn one year old. You also should get a shot if you are going to a country with high rates of hepatitis A.

    Although there is no cure, most people who have hepatitis A eventually get better on their own.  

    What is Hepatitis B?
    Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B can last only a few weeks or it can last a very long time. Hepatitis B can lead to liver problems such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, liver cancer or even death.

    You get hepatitis B from:

    • Contact with infected blood or other body fluids
    • Being born from a mother with the virus
    • Sharing needles
    • Having sex with someone who has hepatitis B
    • Traveling to where the virus is common (China, Southeast Asia, and Africa)

    Treatment: There are no drugs that treat hepatitis B. Although there is no cure, most people who have hepatitis B eventually get better on their own. However, if you have the disease for a long time, doctors will look for liver damage.

    There is a vaccination to prevent hepatitis B, and your doctor may give you the vaccination if you have an illness like diabetes, liver problems, or kidney problems. All babies and children should get the vaccination. You should also get a shot if you have sex with many different people or use drugs.

    What is Hepatitis C?
    Hepatitis C is a very serious disease. It can cause liver damage, liver failure or even death.  Many people don’t know they have hepatitis C. More than 75% of adults who have hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965. If that is you, get yourself tested!

    You get hepatitis C from:

    • Sharing drug needles
    • Getting stuck with a needle that has blood on it from someone who has hepatitis C
    • Being born to a mother who has hepatitis C
    • Having sex with someone who already has hepatitis C
    • Being on dialysis for many years because of kidney failure

    You DON’T get hepatitis C by shaking hands, hugging, kissing or sitting next to someone.

    Treatment: It used to be very hard to treat hepatitis C. There are now easier ways to treat it, and even cure it.  Ask your doctor for more facts.

    Preventing Hepatitis A
    If traveling to a developing country, you should avoid:

    • Drinking local water (only drink  water from sealed bottles or boiled water)
    • Ice
    • Seafood
    • Raw fruit and vegetables (eat fruits that you can peel)

    Preventing Hepatitis B & C

    • Don’t share drug needles
    • Wear gloves if you have to touch anyone’s blood
    • Use a condom during sex
    • Don’t use anyone else’s toothbrush, razor, or anything else that could have blood on it
    • If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the needles are new

    Speak with your doctor about available vaccinations to prevent hepatitis A and B. 

    To learn more visit the American Liver Foundation website at or call 800.465.4837.
    National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House, “What I need to know about Hepatitis C”:
    Department of Health & Human Services, “The ABCs of Hepatitis”:
    WebMD, “Hepatitis C Guide, Hepatitis B Guide, Hepatitis A Guide”:

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