What Are The Risk Factors For Getting Hepatitis B
Due to the way that hepatitis B spreads, people most at risk for getting infected include:
- Children whose mothers have been infected with hepatitis B.
- Children who have been adopted from countries with high rates of hepatitis B infection.
- People who have unprotected sex and/or have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
- People who live with or work in an institutional setting, such as prisons or group homes.
- Healthcare providers and first responders.
- People who share needles or syringes.
- People who live in close quarters with a person with chronic hepatitis B infection.
- People who are on dialysis.
What Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. Itâs caused by a virus. There is a vaccine that protects against it. For some people, hepatitis B is mild and lasts a short time. These âacuteâ cases donât always need treatment. But it can become chronic. If that happens, it can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer, and it even can be life-threatening.
Itâs spread when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the hepatitis B virus.
It’s serious, but if you get the disease as an adult, it shouldnât last a long time. Your body fights it off within a few months, and youâre immune for the rest of your life. That means you can’t get it again. But if you get it at birth, itâ unlikely to go away.
Abcs Of Hepatitis: Is It Curable
The ABCs of Hepatitis reveal that the disease is either manageable or curable depending on which type of hepatitis a person has. Hepatitis A usually resolves itself within a few months hepatitis B can be suppressed with antiviral drugs until it leaves the body and hepatitis C can be cured outright with medication.
Dr. Aslam advises that preventing the disease is always preferable to curing it after infection, so vaccination for type A and B are important, and avoiding contact with infected people and contaminated body fluids, food, and water will inhibit the spread of all forms of viral hepatitis.
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Who Should Be Vaccinated For Hepatitis B
All newborns should be vaccinated. Also, people who are under 18 who were not vaccinated at birth should also get the vaccine. Other groups who should be sure to be vaccinated are those in certain high-risk categories, such as:
- People who have more than one sexual partner.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Adults with diabetes.
- Sexual partners of infected people and people who share households with infected individuals.
- People who are exposed to blood and other bodily fluids, including healthcare and public safety professionals, and people who work in jails and other places taking care of people who cant take care of themselves.
There Is No Vaccine For Hepatitis C
But, did you know?
- Hepatitis C can be treated with medication that has cure rates > 90%.
- Earlier diagnosis and treatment lead to better health outcomes.
- Early treatment may even prevent liver disease, liver cancer, or cirrhosis.
Testing is quick and simple with a blood test.
Ask your health care provider for a test if you think you could have hepatitis C.
The best way to know is to get tested.
To learn about how to protect yourself and where you can get tested, visit Canada.ca and search hepatitis C.
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Hepatitis B Prevention And Vaccination
Hepatitis B infection is vaccine-preventable. An effective and safe vaccine is used to protect children and adults from the disease. In addition, the implementation of safe injection procedures, blood safety strategies and safer sex practices can protect against HBV transmission. There are simple and effective ways to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B:
- Practice safe sex using protective measures
- Avoid direct contact with bodily fluids and blood
- Wash your hands carefully after any potential exposure
- Clean up blood spills with a disinfecting solution
- Avoid sharing sharp personal items such as nail clippers, razors or toothbrushes
- Cover all wounds and cuts carefully
- Avoid street drugs
- Make sure sterile needles are used for tattoos, piercing, and acupuncture
- Moreover, all blood and blood components used for blood transfusions should undergo quality-assured screening to reduce the chance of getting HBV.
Hepatitis B virus vaccine
Is There A Way To Prevent Hepatitis C
Although currently theres no vaccine to protect people from contracting hepatitis C, there are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
If you receive a hepatitis C diagnosis, your healthcare provider may advise you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
The vaccinations are recommended because these hepatitis viruses can lead to additional health and liver complications, especially in those with preexisting liver disease.
Since you cant prevent hepatitis C through a vaccine, the best prevention is to avoid exposure. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne pathogen, so you can limit your chances of exposure through these healthy lifestyle practices:
- Avoid sharing needles, razor blades, or nail clippers.
- Use proper safety precautions if youll be exposed to bodily fluids, such as when performing first aid.
- Hepatitis C isnt usually transmitted through sexual contact, but its possible. Limit your exposure by practicing sex with a condom or other barrier method. Its also important to openly communicate with sexual partners and to get tested if you suspect youve been exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
Because hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, its possible to contract it through a blood transfusion.
However, since the early 1990s, blood product screening tests have been standard protocol for minimizing the risk of this type of transmission.
Subsequent testing is based on risk. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
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Medical Treatment For Hepatitis A B & C
Treatment for hepatitis A, B, or C is based on which type of hepatitis is present in the bloodstream and the severity of the resulting liver damage. Depending on the results of diagnostic tests, our specialists at NYU Langone may recommend antiviral medication to stop the virus from replicating and protect your liver from further damage.
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How Many People Have Hepatitis B
In the United States, an estimated 862,000 people were chronically infected with HBV in 2016. New cases of HBV infection in the United States had been decreasing until 2012. Since that time, reported cases of acute hepatitis B have been fluctuating around 3,000 cases per year. In 2019, 3,192 cases of acute hepatitis B were reported however, because of low case detection and reporting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were 20,700 acute hepatitis B infections. New HBV infections are likely linked to the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States.
Globally, HBV is the most common blood-borne infection with an estimated 296 million people infected according to the World Health Organization .
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What Is The Outlook For People With Hepatitis B
The outlook for people with HBV is better now than ever before. You are certainly able to live a full life and help yourself stay healthy. You should make sure to have regular check-ups with a healthcare provider who is qualified to treat hepatitis B, possibly a liver doctor.
Make sure you are vaccinated against hepatitis A. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking other medications or over-the-counter products, including supplements and natural products. These could interfere with your medication or damage your liver. For instance, taking acetaminophen in large doses may harm your liver.
Follow the usual guidelines for living a healthy life:
- Eat nutritious foods, choosing from a variety of vegetables, fruits and healthy proteins. It is said that cruciferous vegetables are especially good at protecting the liver.
- Exercise regularly.
- Dont smoke and dont drink. Both tobacco and alcohol are bad for your liver.
- Do things that help you cope with stress, like journaling, talking with others, meditating and doing yoga.
- Avoid inhaling toxic fumes.
Virion Structure And Genome
HBV particles, also known as Dane particles , were firstly identified by Dane and colleagues in 1970 . Their shape is spherical, with a diameter of Ã¢Â¼42 nm. They consist of an outer envelope, which is a host-derived lipid bilayer containing three different-sized HBV surface antigens Ã¢large , middle and small Ã¢surrounding the viral nucleocapsid. The nucleocapsid is icosahedral and comprises the HBV core protein , as well as the viral DNA genome and the viral DNA polymerase . The virus also secretes a wide range of defective particles , including enveloped nucleocapsids that are empty or contain defective immature genomes and subviral lipid particles containing the viral surface antigens. The subviral particles are secreted along with the infectious virions at levels that are thousands of times higher, and they play an important role in suppressing antibody responses to the virus .
Hepatitis B Virus particles. Infectious HBV virion . The lipid envelope, bearing three types of surface proteinsÃ¢small , middle and large Ã¢surrounds the nucleocapsid, consisting of HBV relaxed circular DNA , the viral DNA polymerase , and the core protein . Non-infectious HBV particles enveloped nucleocapsids containing immature or defective DNA/RNA, subviral particles, and naked nucleocapsids.
Hepatitis B Virus genome. Partially double-stranded, relaxed circular DNA with four overlapping open reading frames .
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How Do You Get Hepatitis A
The main way you get hepatitis A is when you eat or drink something that has the hep A virus in it. A lot of times this happens in a restaurant. If an infected worker there doesnt wash their hands well after using the bathroom, and then touches food, they could pass the disease to you.
Food or drinks you buy at the supermarket can sometimes cause the disease, too. The ones most likely to get contaminated are:
Another way you can get hep A is when you have sex with someone who has it.
How Is Viral Hepatitis Diagnosed And What Is A Hepatitis Panel
To diagnose this disease, we use a pretty straightforward blood test, said Dr. Aslam. Its known as a hepatitis panel, and it checks for hepatitis A, B, and C antibodies. Its fairly effective and not very invasive.
Testing is indicated if someone has gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, or if the patient is jaundiced or is in the hospital for some other reason and lab tests show abnormal liver function. We do a hepatitis panel to make sure a patient is not suffering from something other than what brought them in, Dr. Aslam said. Its mostly done as a part of a general work-up if the patient doesnt feel well and their liver function is not that great.
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Is There A Cure For Hepatitis B
There is no cure or medication that totally eliminates the virus or makes HBsAg negative, but there is hope. There are approved therapies for hepatitis B and many in development. First-line therapies in the U.S. and globally are entecavir, tenofovir and tenofovir , which are antivirals. Sometimes, pegylated interferon is used. These drugs control and manage the virus and reduce potential liver damage. The virus is suppressed, liver enzymes and liver function tests may normalize and the liver is better able to heal. In rare cases, they may even get rid of the virus .
You might be interested in the recent by Dr. Timothy Block, president of the Hepatitis B Foundation Dr. Chari Cohen, our senior vice president and Maureen Kamischke, the Foundation’s patient engagement and consult specialist.
You might also listen to this podcast by HBFs Dr. Tim Block, the co-founder of the Hepatitis B Foundation about efforts to find a cure, and how the time is right for these great medical discoveries to be achieved sometime soon.
For a complete list of FDA-approved drugs and other promising drugs in development for hepatitis B, visit our Drug Watch page.
Treatment Options For Hepatitis B
People living with chronic hepatitis B infection should expect to live a long and healthy life. There are decisions people can make to protect their livers such as seeing a liver specialist or health care provider regularly, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and eating healthy foods. There are also approved drugs for both adults and children that control the hepatitis B virus, which helps reduce the risk of developing more serious liver disease, but there is still no complete cure.
Current treatments for hepatitis B fall into two general categories:
- Immune modulator Drugs These are interferon-type drugs that boost the immune system to help get rid of the hepatitis B virus. They are given as a shot over 6 months to 1 year.
- Antiviral Drugs These are drugs that stop or slow down the hepatitis B virus from reproducing, which reduces the inflammation and damage of your liver. These are taken as a pill once a day for at least 1 year and usually longer.
It is important to know that not everyone with chronic hepatitis B infection needs to be treated. This can be difficult to accept when first diagnosed because taking a drug to get rid of the virus seems like the first step to getting better. Current treatments, however, are generally found to be most effective in those who show signs of active liver disease .
Hepatitis B Drug Watch
Visit the HBF Drug Watch for a complete list of the approved treatments for hepatitis B and promising new drugs in development.
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Unlikely Sources Of Infection
Trace levels of HBV can also be found in saliva, tears, urine, and feces but in amounts that are highly unlikely to cause infection.
While vaccination remains the cornerstone of HBV prevention, there are ways to further reduce the risk of transmission, especially if you or someone in your household has hepatitis B:
- Wash your hands with soap and water if exposed to blood.
- Avoid sharing razors or toothbrushes.
- Use condoms during sex.
Great Progress Has Been Made In Treating The Virus Though More Can Be Done
There is currently no cure for people living with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Those unable to naturally fight off the virus may live with it for many years without experiencing any symptoms until the liver becomes damaged. Because of this, people diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B virus infection need to be regularly tested and monitored to watch out for liver damage.
Additionally, we recognise that people living with chronic hepatitis B virus infection may also endure significant psychological pain and social stigma. Although most transmission occurs from mother to child during birth, there are other routes of transmission which can cause people to view their condition as something shameful, potentially reducing their likelihood to seek care and their quality of life.
Current hepatitis B treatments work to suppress the activity of the virus, keeping it inactive with antiviral therapies. These treatments can help protect the liver but rarely clear the virus completely. This means many people with hepatitis B require treatment for the rest of their lives.
Scientists are now looking to go one step further by switching the focus to the virus RNA. They have discovered that interfering with the RNA not only stops viral replication but also halts the production of viral proteins and allows for an opportunity to investigate whether this can stop hepatitis B in its tracks.
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Can The Liver Repair Itself From Hepatitis B
With a chronic hepatitis B infection, however, the liver is constantly under attack by the virus and eventually it can become hardened over time. Some of the changes and liver damage that can occur are described below: Fibrosis: After becoming inflamed, the liver tries to repair itself by forming tiny scars.
Abcs Of Hepatitis: What Is Acute Vs Chronic
An important fact about the ABCs of Hepatitis is that acute hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver and liver damage that happens over the course of less than six months, and it is most associated with hepatitis A. When patients recover, their liver function blood tests return to normal. Hepatitis B and C cause mostly chronic disease, which produces symptoms and liver damage over longer than six months.
Hepatitis C: Common Deadly And Curable
18 September 2017 By Rich Hutchinson, Pedro Valencia, Shana Topp, and Thomas Eisenhart
Consider some sobering and little-known facts: Hepatitis C is the most common and deadly infectious disease in the United States, beating out HIV, tuberculosis, and 57 other illnesses tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . More than 4 million Americans are infectedmost of them baby boomers but only 50% have been diagnosed. The remainder are unaware that they have contracted the virus, thus putting themselves and others at risk. And while mortality rates for most infectious diseases are decreasing, deaths from HCV are rising over time. According to the CDC, nearly 20,000 deaths were reported in 2014, up from just 11,000 in 2003.
Perhaps worst of all is that although HCV is common and deadly, about 95% of the time it can be cured with antiviral treatments. Media attention has focused on the high cost of these therapies, but other roadblocks are even more problematic. For instance, there is a lack of awareness about the disease, its risk factors, and available treatments not only among patients and members of the general populationbut also among nurses, physicians, and other health care providers.
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