Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that an estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis, however many do not know they are infected. The only way to know if you have hepatitis is to be tested. If you know you have hepatitis, you can take steps to keep from spreading it to others.
Hepatitas A (HAV) is primarily transmitted by the fecal-oral route. This can be by person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water. The best way to protect yourself from hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. Recovering from HAV requires a lot of rest, usually over a period of several months. Currently, there is no cure for HAV. For more information, including symptoms and who may be at risk for HAV, please read JCPH’s brochure on HAV.
Hepatitis B (HBV) is transmitted through activities that involve a puncture through the skin or l contact with infectious blood or body fluids including semen or saliva. You can protect yourself from HBV by using a condom and not participating in injection drug use that involves sharing needles, syringes, or drug-preparation equipment. HAV can also be transmitted through contact with blood or open sores of an infected person, to a baby from an infected mother or sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person. The best way to protect from yourself from hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. To learn more about HBV, visit the CDC’s website.
Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States. According to the CDC there are approximately 3.2 million people chronically infected. Most of these people do not look or feel sick, so they are unaware that they are infected. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. The best way to prevent Hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injection drug use. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, Hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. This is why the CDC recommends that everyone born between 1945 - 1965 get a hepatitis test. More than 2 million U.S. baby boomers are infected with hepatitis C – accounting for more than 75 percent of all American adults living with the virus. For more information read JCPH’s Hepatitis C Brochure. For more information on hepatitis, please contact the Jefferson County Public Health Department at 303-232-6301. If you feel you are at risk, get tested as soon as possible or talk with your health care provider. Early treatment can help stop the spread of hepatitis and save you from liver disease.