Understanding

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a serious virus that can attack the liver. There are five types of hepatitis. The most common types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

How do I get Hepatitis?

Hepatitis A:

  • Contact with feces (poop) of an infected person (by eating or drinking something infected with feces of someone who has the disease, by oral to anal contact, or by handling a condom after anal sex)
  • Household contact with a person with hepatitis A
  • Contact with infected drug equipment (like sharing needles or other injecting equipment)

Hepatitis B

  • Coming into contact with the blood of an infected person
  • Having sex with an infected person
  • Sharing injection drug needles or others items used to shoot up drugs (works, cotton, cookers, etc.)

Hepatitis C

  • Coming into contact with the blood of an infected person (for example: Using a razor with blood on it, or sharing needles when injecting drugs
  • Sex with an infected partner, but sex is not a common way to get hepatitis C

What does hepatitis do to my body?

Hepatitis can cause a number of problems, including yellow eyes and skin, stomach pain or swelling, muscle weakness, joint pain, rashes, nausea or vomiting, dark urine (pee), loss of appetite, fever, and tiredness.

Sometimes there are no signs at first. It is very important to get tested to see if you have hepatitis.

How do I find out if I have hepatitis?

Ask your doctor for a hepatitis test. If you don’t have a regular doctor or another healthcare provider, you can search for a clinic in your area that offers testing.

Is there a cure for hepatitis?

No. There is no cure, but there are medicines to treat hepatitis. There are also vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B that will prevent the disease. Ask your healthcare provider about them.

Tattoos and Body Piercing

Hepatitis B and C transmission can occur if a tattoo artist or body piercer uses an unsterilized (unclean) needle used on someone else that has hepatitis B or C to pierce or tattoo a person or uses other equipment that is unclean. Research has not shown that hepatitis C is spread within licensed, commercial tattooing facilities. But unregulated tattooing and piercing in informal settings may put a person at risk of infection.

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