Hepatitis

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. There are several viruses which cause hepatitis. The common ones are hepatitis A, B and C.  The main differences between the viruses are how they are transmitted and the effects they have on your health. Most people recover from hepatitis A with no lasting liver damage but hepatitis B and C can cause long term liver disease and even liver cancer in some people. However, you may not know that you have been infected as in many cases there are no early warning symptoms until liver damage is advanced.

Hepatitis A Hepatitis B Hepatitis C
You can be infected
  • In any country where hygiene and sewage treatment standards are poor
  • In any country from eating raw and inadequately cooked food prepared by an infected person with poor personal hygiene
  • From salads and fruit washed in contaminated water
  • From sexual activities which involve oral/faecal contact such as rimming
  • By having sexual intercourse without a condom
  • By sharing any injecting equipment including syringes, needles, filters, cups, spoons and water
  • From infected blood, for example through an open cut or sore, from accidental injury with a contaminated needle, by sharing razors, toothbrushes or scissors
  • Through other infected secretions such as semen, vaginal fluid and saliva, particularly if contaminated with blood
  • By sharing any injecting equipment including syringes, needles, filters, cups, spoons and water
  • By sharing personal items such as a razor or toothbrush where dried blood may be present
  • From some blood transfusions and blood products given before screening for hepatitis C began in the UK in September 1991
  • By having sexual intercourse without a condom, although the risk is low.
You can protect yourself
  • By being vaccinated against hepatitis A before visiting all countries where sanitation is poor, particularly southern and eastern Europe, Africa, Middle and Far East
  • By being vaccinated if you work in a high risk occupation such as a sewage treatment
  • By avoiding inadequately cooked shellfish, raw salads, fruit, tap water, ice cubes and unpasteurised milk in high risk countries
  • By vaccination if your sexual practices might put you at risk
  • By being vaccinated against hepatitis B if you are at risk of infection, for example if you inject drugs or you are a healthcare worker
  • By having safer sex – use a condom
  • By not sharing any injecting equipment including syringes, needles, filters, cups, spoons and water
  • By preventing someone else’s blood or other body fluids from getting into your body
  • By not sharing any injecting equipment including syringes, needles, filters, cups, spoons and water
  • By ensuring sterile needles are used for injecting, acupuncture, tattooing and body piercing
  • By not sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes where dried blood may be present
  • By having safer sex – use a condom

Information Freephone:
0808 800 1000

For more information please contact:

British Liver Trust
Ransomes Europark
Ipswich IP3 9OG

(From: British Liver Trust – Hepatitis A, B, C leaflet)