Hepatitis

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.

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Symptoms

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).

Risk Factors 

  • 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

Sources