Hepatitis Foundation International

Hepatitis Overview

ARE YOU AT RISK? Millions of Americans have VIRAL HEPATITIS. Most don't know it. Take this online assessment to see if you're at risk. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/

This online Hepatitis Risk Assessment is designed to determine an individual’s risk for viral hepatitis and asks questions based upon CDC’s guidelines for testing and vaccination. The Hepatitis Risk Assessment allows individuals to answer questions privately and print their recommendations to discuss with their doctor. Take this 5 minute assessment developed by the CDC and get a personalized report.

The Hepatitis Foundation International is proud to join with the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis in leading a national education initiative called Know More Hepatitis. The initiative aims to decrease the burden of chronic viral hepatitis by increasing awareness about this hidden epidemic and encouraging people who may be chronically infected to get tested.

For more information and links to additional resources, go to HFI’s Resources section.

What Is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a hepatitis virus.

An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. Most do not know HOW they were infected. About 80,000 new infections occur each year.

There are several types of viral hepatitis infections. The most common types of viral hepatitis in the U. S. are hepatitis A, B, and C. In recent years, hepatitis D and E viruses also have been identified. Related health issues affecting the liver are cirrhosis and liver cancer.

How do you get hepatitis? 

Hepatitis A is transmitted through fecal contaminated food or water and anal/oral contact. Transmission of hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) involves contact with infected blood and body fluids. HBV is transmitted by infected body fluid. HCV is a blood born virus and is transmitted blood to blood. In some cases it is impossible to trace the source of a hepatitis infection. 

Can someone visit me if they have hepatitis?

It is perfectly safe to visit someone with hepatitis. Hepatitis is not transmitted through casual contact. It is OK to shake hands with, hug, or kiss someone who is infected with viral hepatitis.

Can hepatitis be sexually transmitted?

Yes, hepatitis B is often sexually transmitted. HBV is found in blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. The virus is 100 times more infectious than the HIV virus. Sexual partners of an infected person should practice safe sex. Partners not infected should get vaccinated for hepatitis B. (Those who have recovered from HBV are immune.)

Hepatitis C is not easily transmitted through sexual contact; researchers are uncertain how often transmission occurs through sex.

Hepatitis A may be spread through anal/oral contact during sex.

Is treatment available for hepatitis patients?

  • Hepatitis A: no treatment for hepatitis A (HAV), however 99% of the time HAV will clear up over a period of a few weeks to months.
  • Hepatitis B: treatment for chronic hepatitis B usually consists of Alpha interferon and lamivudine. These drugs are effective in up to 40% of patients.
  • Hepatitis C: treatment for HCV will be interferon, ribavirin, and teleprevir or boceprevir. Currently these are the recommended drugs. Interferon can be taken alone or in combination with Ribavirin. Combination therapy is currently the treatment of choice.
  • Chronic hepatitis D is usually treated with pegylated interferon, although other potential treatments are under study.
  • Hepatitis E usually resolves on its own over several weeks to months.