Stigmatized and Misunderstood, Hepatitis Kills 1.5 Million People a Year

It’s ignored, stigmatized, and misunderstood, but it kills 1.5 million people every year, as many as HIV/AIDS. It’s the leading cause of liver cancer. Hepatitis is a serious inflammation of the liver, and it doesn’t play favorites. It can strike anyone, so it’s worth knowing what it is and how you might help prevent it.

Types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is highly contagious. It spreads through food or water contaminated with fecal matter, or from direct contact with an infected person. It causes acute (short-term) infection, but doesn’t become chronic (long-term). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 1.4 million cases of HAV every year.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of a person who is infected. The disease can be acute, but often becomes chronic. Without treatment, about 25 percent of people with HBV develop serious liver problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. The CDC estimates that there are about 240 million people around the world living with chronic HBV. It is especially common in Asia and Africa.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) spreads through contact with blood, usually from sharing of needles, accidental needle sticks, or personal items like razors that may have come into contact with blood. The virus can be acute or cause chronic liver disease. According to the CDC, there are about 130-150 million people around the world with chronic HCV.

Hepatitis D virus (HDV) spreads through contact with infected blood, but you can only get it if you already have HBV. It is rare in the United States.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is transmitted via fecal matter, usually through contaminated water. It develops as an acute infection, but doesn’t progress to a chronic form. HEV is rare in the United States, but common in countries that have poor sanitation.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

  • stomach pain
  • dark-colored urine, pale stools
  • nausea, vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Symptoms aren’t always obvious. You can have the infection for years without ever feeling sick. During that time, it’s possible to transmit the infection to others. In some people, hepatitis clears up without treatment. For others, current treatments can help slow down or prevent damage to the liver. If you think you may have been exposed to hepatitis, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test.

Preventing Hepatitis

Get vaccinated. Vaccinations for HAV and HBV are recommended for all children and for adults at increased risk of infection. Currently, there are no vaccines for HCV, HDV, or HEV.

Know before you go. Before traveling internationally, ask your doctor if you need vaccinations. You can learn more about what immunizations you may need by visiting the CDC Traveler’s Health page.

Practice good hygiene. Always wash your hands after you use the bathroom and before preparing or eating food. Proper hand washing technique means using soap and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to soap and clean water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

Be cautious. In certain regions of the world, tap water should be avoided. Call the CDC at 877-FYI-TRIP for more information. Never share needles or personal items like razors and nail clippers.

Use protection. Latex condoms may lower risk of transmission of some types of hepatitis.

Think again about viral hepatitis. It won’t be ignored.

Related Reading
An Ounce of Prevention in Your Hands
Want to Provide Safe Water to Needy Children? Put Down Your Phone
15 Ways to Boost Your Liver for Great Health

Images: World Hepatitis Alliance

63 comments

Brittany D.
Brittany D.1 months ago

I was diagnosed of hepatitis in 2012 and I have tried all possible means to get cure but all to no avail, until i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal doctor from South Africa who prepare herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including hepatitis b virus, at first i doubted if it was real but decided to give it a try, when i contact this herbal doctor via his email, he prepared a herbal medicine and sent it to me via courier service, when i received this herbal medicine, he gave me step by instructions on how to apply it, when i applied it as instructed, i was cured of this deadly virus within 18-20 days of usage, I am now free from the virus, i was tasted negative. Contact this great herbal doctor via his email drlusandaherbal@gmail.com or website on www.drlusandaherbals.weebly.com Goodluck

Manish G.
Manish G1 months ago

i am Manish Gautam, i live in Guwahati india, September 2015 I learned my HBsAg was reactive when I was required to undergo medical exam for an employment in Broad, and the doctor told me there is no permanent cure for the disease, I was worried and confused thought my life has come to an end, in December i came across a forum, (MED LAB) Who cured all kind of diseases including hepatitis b, I contacted them via email medlab36@gmail.com and made purchase of the hepatitis Vaccine, i received the Vaccine through DHL within 3 days, when i received the Vaccine i applied it as prescribed and i was totally cured of hepatitis b within few's days of usages, i went back to my doctor and he confirmed i was free curable cured from the disease, am so happy now living a normal life again thanks to MED LAB. Viewers contact MED LAB via email: medlab36@gmail.com

Manish G.
Manish G1 months ago

i am Manish Gautam, i live in Guwahati india, September 2015 I learned my HBsAg was reactive when I was required to undergo medical exam for an employment in Broad, and the doctor told me there is no permanent cure for the disease, I was worried and confused thought my life has come to an end, in December i came across a forum, (MED LAB) Who cured all kind of diseases including hepatitis b, I contacted them via email medlab36@gmail.com and made purchase of the hepatitis Vaccine, i received the Vaccine through DHL within 3 days, when i received the Vaccine i applied it as prescribed and i was totally cured of hepatitis b within few's days of usages, i went back to my doctor and he confirmed i was free curable cured from the disease, am so happy now living a normal life again thanks to MED LAB. Viewers contact MED LAB via email: medlab36@gmail.com

Manish G.
Manish G1 months ago

i am Manish Gautam, i live in Guwahati india, September 2015 I learned my HBsAg was reactive when I was required to undergo medical exam for an employment in Broad, and the doctor told me there is no permanent cure for the disease, I was worried and confused thought my life has come to an end, in December i came across a forum, (MED LAB) Who cured all kind of diseases including hepatitis b, I contacted them via email medlab36@gmail.com and made purchase of the hepatitis Vaccine, i received the Vaccine through DHL within 3 days, when i received the Vaccine i applied it as prescribed and i was totally cured of hepatitis b within few's days of usages, i went back to my doctor and he confirmed i was free curable cured from the disease, am so happy now living a normal life again thanks to MED LAB. Viewers contact MED LAB via email: medlab36@gmail.com

Marlene S.
Marlene Schmdit2 months ago

Am so happy, i never believe i will be this happy again in life, I was working as an air-hoster ( cabby crew ) for 5 years but last year i loose my job because of this deadly disease called Hepatitis B (HbsAg), I never felt sick or have any symptom, till all workers were ask to bring their doctor report, that was how i got tested and i found out that am HbsAg positive that make me loose my job, because it was consider as an STD and is incurable disease, i was so depress was thinking of committing suicide, till i explain to a friend of mine, who always said to me a problem share is a problem solved, that was how she directed me to this clinic called HEALTH MED LAB CLINIC, that was how i contacted them and i get medication from them and i got cured for real, I just went back to my work and they also carry out the test to be real sure and i was negative. Please contact this clinic if you are hepatitis B positive their email is ( healthmedlab@gmail.com ) they are life saver.

JL A.
JL A2 years ago

good to know

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

Thanks for the information. I did not know anything about Hepatitis before!!

Lone W.
Lone W2 years ago

You think AIDS is scary and a problem, hepatitis is much worse. So, yes get vaccinated against HepA and Hep B. Also, there soon will be a vaccine for HepC. These vaccines are among the safest ones around.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Ana R
ANA MARIJA R2 years ago

Thank you