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World Hepatitis Day is July 28. By Our July Student Pharmacist, Ray Chu.


In observance of World Hepatitis Day, which is July 28 this year, I wanted to spread awareness by answering some common questions about hepatitis.

Some fast trivia: Did you know there are currently five different kinds of hepatitis recognized? Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. The most common ones in the US are A, B, and C.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis describes inflammation of the liver and most often is referring to viral hepatitis caused by one of the hepatitis viruses. Depending on which virus, a person’s hepatitis will be classified A through E. Due to inflammation, the liver will not work as well. Drugs and toxins will not be filtered out of the body as well as with a normally functioning liver. Also, any activity that would stress or damage a normally functioning liver (such as drinking alcohol or taking certain medications) will affect a liver with hepatitis even more, worsening the condition.

It is estimated that 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis. 

Sounds dangerous, should I avoid people who have hepatitis?

Not at all. It is perfectly safe to be around someone with hepatitis. You cannot contract viral hepatitis by casual contact, so you can shake hands with, hug, or even kiss someone with hepatitis safely without danger of infecting yourself. 

How is hepatitis spread and what preventative measures can be taken?

Hepatitis is spread differently depending on which virus we are talking about.

  • Hepatitis A Virus (HAV)
    • HAV is spread person to person by the fecal-oral route, mainly by eating or drinking food or water that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person.
    • Basic hand washing with soap and water following bowel movements and before handling food and drinks will reduce the incidence of Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
    • HBV is a bloodborne viral infection that is mainly spread through sexual contact with an infected person, mother to child during childbirth, and by contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.
    • Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, and needles with an infected person.
  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
    • HCV is spread primarily though contact with an infected person’s blood.
    • To a lesser degree, it can also be spread though sexual contact and childbirth.
    • Much like HBV, avoid sharing personal items with an infected person that may come into contact with infected blood.
  • Hepatitis D Virus (HDV)
    • HDV is also spread through contact with infected blood, but only in people already infected with HBV.
    • If you do not have HBV, you will not contract HDV; therefore, all precautions for HBV will also help lessen the chance of HDV.
  • Hepatitis E Virus (HEV)
    • HEV is a relatively newly recognized disease.
    • It is spread though food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.
    • Some data suggests that pigs can carry HEV and, therefore, eating infected pork may transmit the infection.
    • Consuming clean water only and avoiding contaminated foods will lower your chances in getting infected with HEV.

Are there any treatments available for hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis A
    • There is a vaccine available starting as young as 12 months old and is a regimen of three injections over one year. The immunity provided by the vaccine lasts at least 20 years.
    • Full recovery of all HAV infections is expected in 99% of all patients.
    • HAV usually resolves on its own over several weeks.
    • Chronic hepatitis usually does not result from an HAV infection.
  • Hepatitis B
    • There is a vaccine available for HBV starting as young as two months old and is a regimen of three injections over a year and a half. The immunity is expected to last at least 15 years.
    • If infected, 98% of acute HBV infected individuals clear the virus within 6 months without medication intervention.
    • For those that develop chronic hepatitis, antiviral medications are available to suppress the HBV, but will not cure HBV completely.
  • Hepatitis C
    • There are NO vaccines available to protect against HCV at this time.
    • Preventative measures are the first line of defense. Do not share personal hygiene items with an infected person.
    • Antiviral medications are available to suppress HCV proliferation for those who develop a chronic infection.
  • Hepatitis D
    • Protecting yourself against HBV will also protect you against HDV. Receiving the HBV vaccine will also protect you from getting HDV.
    • All of the same precautions for HBV will also protect you from getting HDV.
    • Treatments for HDV are available, but are only beneficial to a small portion of patients.
  • Hepatitis E
    • There are no available vaccines for HEV.
    • HEV usually resolves on its own over several weeks to months.
    • If it does not resolve, immunosuppressive therapies exist to reduce the amount of damage done to the liver.

Want more information?

Please stop into any of our locations to learn more about the vaccines available for hepatitis or even if you just have a couple questions for us regarding the disease.

Some websites where you may find more information are:









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