What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a hepatitis virus. There are several
types of hepatitis infections. The three most common in the U. S. are Hepatitis A,B, and
C. Hepatitis A is considered the least threatening since it generally does not lead to liver
damage, and 99% of those infected fully recover. Hepatitis B is a serious viral disease
that attacks the liver. Approximately 2-10% of adults and 25-80% of children under the
age of 5 will not be able to clear the virus in six months and are considered to be
chronically infected. Hepatitis C also causes inflammation of the liver, with an estimated
80% of those infected developing chronic hepatitis. Many can develop cirrhosis (scarring
of the liver), and some may also develop liver cancer.
Is it safe to visit someone with hepatitis?
It is perfectly safe to visit someone with hepatitis. Hepatitis is not transmitted through
casual contact. It is OK to shake hands with, hug, or kiss someone who is infected with
Is treatment available for hepatitis patients?
There is no treatment for Hepatitis A (HAV), but 99% of the time HAV will clear up over a
period of a few weeks to months. Treatment for chronic Hepatitis B usually consists of
Alpha interferon and lamivudine. These drugs are effective in up to 40% of patients. For
Hepatitis C, interferon and ribavirin are the recommended drugs. Interferon can be taken
alone or in combination with ribavirin. Combination therapy is currently the treatment of
I N T E R N A T I O N A L