HEPATITIS: THINK AGAIN

Viral hepatitis kills 1.5 million people worldwide each year.

That’s as many people as HIV / AIDS.

 

HEPATITIS A

Transmission: Hepatitis A is spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

 

Prevention: There is a vaccination for hepatitis A. Treatment within a few weeks of exposure to the virus can also bring short term immunity. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.

 

Treatment: As hepatitis A only causes acute hepatitis, the body is often able to clear the infection itself within a few weeks. However, hepatitis A infections can sometimes cause further complications.

 

HEPATITIS B

 

Transmission: Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids (i.e. saliva, semen and vaginal fluid) of an infected person. It can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth.

 

Prevention: There is a vaccination that can prevent infection. If you have not been vaccinated, to reduce chances of exposure it is best to use condoms, and to avoid sharing needles or items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

 

Treatment: Drugs such as alpha interferon and peginterferon and a variety of antiviral drugs are available which slow the replication of the virus and occasionally result in its clearance. Children born to mothers infected with hepatitis B should also be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth, as this can prevent an infection that will most likely progress to chronic hepatitis B.

 

HEPATITIS C

 

Transmission: Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. In rare cases it can be transmitted through certain sexual practises and during childbirth.

 

Prevention: There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. It is therefore necessary to reduce risk of exposure, by avoiding sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

 

Treatment: Treatment for chronic hepatitis C aims to eradicate the virus. It often involves a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, and there is increasing use of potent direct acting antiviral drugs, with and without interferon. People with different genotypes respond differently to treatment, some more successfully than others

 

If you would like more information on Hepatitis please see: http://www.worldhepatitisday.info/en/about-hepatitis

Vaccine is available at the heath department for Hepatitis A & B. Call 304-623-9308 for more information.

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