During Hepatitis Awareness Month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is making an extra effort to educate the public about the different types of hepatitis. While they all affect the liver and have similar symptoms, they have different routes of transmission and affect different groups of people.
The World Health Organization (WHO), defines hepatitis as “an inflammation of the liver.” WHO explains that there are five main types of hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E). However, “B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and together, are the most cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.”
Hepatitis A (HAV) Transmitted person to person or through fecal matter. Occurs mostly in children under 6 years of age. Vaccine preventable. Symptoms: fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, jaundice.
Hepatitis B (HBV) Transmitted by way of blood, semen, or any bodily fluid from an HBV infected person entering a non-HBV infected person through sexual contact, sharing needles, syringes, or other drug paraphernalia or from mother to baby at birth. It can become a long-term, chronic infection if a baby becomes infected. Serious health issues can arise from chronic hepatitis such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. It is vaccine preventable.
Hepatitis C (HCV) Transmitted through exposure to infected blood such as in a blood transfusion or through the sharing of contaminated needles in illicit drug use. While rare, HCV can also be transmitted through sexual contact. There is no vaccine for HCV.
Hepatitis D (HDV) Transmission only occurs between those who are already infected by the HBV virus. Dual infection of HBV and HDV is possible. HDV is vaccine preventable by the HDV vaccine.
Hepatitis E (HEV) Transmission is through the consumption of contaminated water or food. This is the most common type of hepatitis outbreak seen in developing countries. It is vaccine preventable, however it is not easily accessible where it is most needed.
Hepatitis vaccines are readily available in the United States. Discuss your options with your healthcare provider. To schedule an appointment at any of our convenient Primary Medical Care Center community clinics, you may visit our website at www.primarymed.com, or call (305)751-1500 for our Miami-Dade clinic, or (954)289-0000 for our Broward clinic.