Hepatitis is a group of communicable diseases affecting the liver which can result in short-term or long-term illness. The most common forms of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis A is the most common of the three and is transmitted via fecal matter or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A usually resolves within 2 months of infection and does not result in chronic illness. Hepatitis B can be transmitted through the blood, semen, or bodily fluids of an infected individual. Hepatitis B can be short-term or chronic with the latter resulting in serious health problems including cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. More than half of those infected with Hepatitis C will develop chronic illness and can result in the same complications as Hepatitis B. Latinos in the US are less likely to contract Hepatitis A through C, yet the death rates for Latinos with hepatitis is higher on average than for non-Hispanic white Americans. Latino Americans are 40 % more likely to die from Hepatitis C, however they have lower case rates for the disease.
Though differing slightly, the symptoms for viral hepatitis are similar for all types. Symptoms can include one or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fatigue, dark urine, clay-colored stool, diarrhea (hepatitis A only).
Hepatitis A: drug use (sharing of drug equipment), homelessness, living in communities with low vaccination rates, not being vaccinated.
Hepatitis B: Sexual contact with infected individuals, drug use, not being vaccinated, living in communities with low vaccination rates.
Hepatitis C: drug use