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Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B & D, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis E…each represents its own particular health threat, although Hepatitis C is the most damaging. All of them cause inflammation of the liver, although their methods of transmission are slightly different.

Recently, there’s been an outbreak of Hepatitis C among people who engage in “risky sex”, mostly affecting gay men who participate in anal sex (but remember the early 90s! these STD outbreaks may start in high risk communities, but with diseases that are easily transmitted, like Hepatitis C, everyone needs to be aware of the health risks and understand how can you get Hepatitis!).

How Can You Get Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is transmitted one of two ways: the fecal-oral route (transmitted by poor sanitation), or through exposure to blood (even a small amount):

Fecal-Oral:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis E

Through Blood:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Hepatitis D is transmitted similarly to Hepatitis B, and usually exists as a co-infection to Hepatitis B. People at risk for Hepatitis B are also at risk for Hepatitis D.

In America, infants are immunized against Hepatitis A and B, but in many parts of the world there are still high infection rates. How can you get Hepatitis A or B? Drug users may be at risk, although the vaccine provides long lasting protection (according to WHO). In communities without vaccination, an outbreak of Hepatitis A is more likely.

Hepatitis E is perhaps the least threatening Hepatitis. Unless you are a pregnant woman, the risk of death is vary low, and the virus usually has a short lifespan within the body.

How can you get Hepatitis? There’s one more way—Hepatitis is linked to animals like pigs, and so hygiene should be an important consideration both in food preparation and when visiting farms, petting zoos, etc.

What Is Hep C?

Hep C is the biggest risk to Americans of all the Hepatitis’. How can you get Hepatitis C? Transmitted through blood, even an unseen amount from a tiny tear can cause Hepatitis C transmission. That’s why you should not liberally share personal grooming items like toothbrushes or razors.

Hepatitis C is often stigmatized, but there is a movement to remove the stigma, so people can get tested and get treated. Singer Natalie Cole is one celebrity talking openly about her Hepatitis C, and has started Tune In to Hep C to raise awareness about the disease.

Often called the “silent disease”, Hepatitis C symptoms are often confused for a bad flu. People can have Hepatitis C for decades before a compromised liver or weakened immune system (due to age or another disease) reveals the Hepatitis C infection. Baby boomers are considered to be high risk for Hepatitis C, and are encouraged to seek testing.

Do you think there is still a sigma for Hepatitis C? What are good ways to remove it?

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