ZocdocAnswersIs hepatitis a sexually transmitted disease?

Question

Is hepatitis a sexually transmitted disease?

How does a person get hepatitis? From unprotected sex? I'm starting to get nervous that I have it because I had sex with a guy that had it.

Answer

Hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the liver. The type of hepatitis you can "catch" is viral hepatitis. There are many types of viral hepatitis and not all of them are spread in the same way. The most common types are hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis A is spread through drinking or eating contaminated food. It is somewhat unusual in the United States, but is common in other countries that do not have the same clean water standards. It is common practice to vaccinate kids for hepatitis A, and anyone that is traveling to Central or South America that has not been vaccinated. You cannot get hepatitis A through sexual contact. Hepatitis B is the type that is most likely to be spread through sexual contact. Hepatitis B can cause acute liver damage, cirrhosis of the liver, and liver cancer. Today, all kids are vaccinated against hepatitis B. You should consider getting the vaccine if you haven't yet. The last type of Hepatitis C which is spread mostly through sharing needles, or other blood products, but can in rare circumstances be spread sexually. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss your potential exposure to hepatitis and what additional tests and vaccines you should have. Good luck.

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