Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How can someone get hepatitis?"
How do people get hepatitis? Is it an STD? I think I had a vaccine for it but I want to know how to avoid it too.
Hepatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the liver. While there are many causes of this problem, and infection of a virus is one of the most common culprits. When this occurs, we call this viral hepatitis. When you refer to someone getting or transmitting hepatitis, you are referring to the viral form of the illness. There are many types of viral hepatitis, but the most common ones are hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis A is the type that is obtained by eating or drinking contaminated food or water typically outside the United States. It is not transmitted sexually. Hepatitis B and C are both transmitted through sharing needles and other ways in which people are exposed to infected blood. Hepatitis B is also transmitted sexually. Hepatitis C can be transmitted sexually, but it is quite uncommon. Today, most people are routinely vaccinated for hepatitis A and B. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way for you to avoid hepatitis infection is to make sure you are vaccinated and avoid using intravenous drugs such as heroin. The best physician for you to speak to about this issue is your primary care physician. He or she can review your vaccination record and make sure that you don't have any other risk factors. Good luck.
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