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WHAT IS VIRAL HEPATITIS? Hepatitis means liver inflammation. Viral hepatitis means that a person has liver inflammation due to a virus. Viral infection of the liver makes the liver swell up and stop working well. The liver is an important organ. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons.  Several different viruses cause hepatitis. They are called Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Viral hepatitis infection can be acute (short-term) or chronic (lifetime). Chronic hepatitis can cause severe liver damage and liver cancer. Many people do not feel sick when they are first infected with a hepatitis virus and may never know that anything is wrong.

what is hepatitis a?

Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) is spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with feces, or the bowel movement (BM) from a person infected with the Hepatitis A Virus. It can also be caused by anal-oral contact.  Adults who become infected with HAV usually have bad symptoms for several weeks. Almost everyone who gets infected will recover and become immune to being infected again. There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A.  People who travel to areas with poor sanitation, illicit drug users, men who have sex with men, and people with liver disease should be vaccinated.  More….

what is hepatitis b?

The Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is spread through contact with infected blood, through sex with an infected person, and from mother to child during childbirth. It is the most common hepatitis virus.  Most adults who become infected will recover from HBV after a few months and become immune to being infected again.  Others are not able to get rid of the virus and stay infected for life. Chronic HBV often leads to a scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis (sir-o-sis) and liver cancer.  Up to 9 out of 10 babies born to infected mothers end up with chronic HBV and can become very sick. There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B.  All children should be vaccinated. People who are exposed to blood and/or body fluids through sexual, household or occupational contact, illicit drug users, as well as people with HIV or liver disease, should be vaccinated also.  More...

what is hepatitis c?

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is spread mostly from contact with infected blood, such as a blood transfusion (before 1992), kidney dialysis, or through injecting drug use. It is rarely sexually transmitted, although sex with multiple partners or a history of sexually transmitted diseases can put people at risk for it.  The virus can enter the body through minor cuts or scrapes by razors, toothbrushes or on needles used for tattooing, body piercing or on materials used to snort drugs. About a quarter of people who become infected are able to get rid of HCV from their bodies within six months. Unlike the other hepatitis  viruses, recovering from HCV does not provide immunity from being infected again. Most people go on to develop chronic HCV, a silent and progressive disease that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.  More often than not, people with HCV don't have symptoms, which is why testing is so important.  There is treatment for HCV. It works best before severe liver damage has occurred. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.  More...

WHAT IS HIV/AIDS?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is spread during sex, through significant and direct contact with infected blood and body fluids, and from mother to baby.  The virus is present in blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. Over time, the HIV infection causes the immune system to weaken, causing the person to be at risk for getting other infections that could be life-threatening. When one of these other infections (called “opportunistic infections”) happens, the person has Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.  The first symptoms of HIV infection can resemble the symptoms of a common cold or flu. Some people have these symptoms and others don’t, so symptoms are not a reliable way to figure out if you have been infected. There is no vaccine for HIV.  If you have possibly been exposed to blood and body fluids, get tested. More…

WHAT are stds?

An STD or Sexually Transmitted Disease is spread from one person to another through either sexual contact or sharing body fluids, like blood. There are two categories of STDs:  bacterial and viral.  Bacterial and viral STDs vary in the way they are treated. Bacterial STDs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, are often cured with antibiotics. Viral STDs, like hepatitis B, HIV and HPV (genital warts), have no cure but can be treated to reduce the chance of long-term complications. One of the most common symptoms of STD is no symptom, so it is important to get checked at least annually if you and/or your partner is sexually active with more than each other.  STDs need to be detected early and fully treated to avoid complications that could be serious and/or permanent. More...

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HOW CAN I KEEP FROM GETTING INFECTED?

Hepatitis A & B Vaccine: There are several different forms of viral hepatitis. Each is different and being “protected” from one, does not protect you from the others. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are vaccine preventable.  Hepatitis C has no vaccine, so preventing the infection through safe(r) drug and sex behavior is necessary. If you are at-risk, get vaccinated for the other viruses, and get tested for C to find out if you’ve been infected so you can get the care and counseling you need.

Hepatitis C, HIV and STD Prevention: The only way to prevent infection is to protect yourself from coming in contact with infected blood and body fluids. This includes using condoms and dental dams for oral/anal/vaginal sex and never sharing ANY drug injecting equipment (or properly cleaning shared needles and works between users).

WHAT DO I DO IF I have been INFECTED?

  • Don't Panic! You have resources available to you. 

  • Remember that you are not alone.

  • Learn as much as you can so you advocate for the best care possible.

  • See a doctor to find out your health status.

  • If treatment is recommended, consider your options and work with your doctor/clinician and local support system to prepare a treatment plan.

  • Get support.  Call our hotline at 877-435-7443

 
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