May is Hepatitis Awareness Month – so, how much do you know?
“Hepat-” (liver) and “-itis” (inflammation) is a general condition that can be caused by toxins, chemicals, or viruses. The most commonly recognized viral types of hepatitis are Hepatitis A, B, and C. All three irritate the liver cells and cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and discolored urine. But, each one is a different virus and impacts your body in different ways.
Hepatitis A travels through the body in the stomach and intestines, and can be spread between people through sewage-contaminated water or food, through direct contact with feces (poop), or through sharing of saliva.
Hepatitis B and C travel through the blood, and can be spread through blood exposures. Blood-borne infections can also be spread through sex activities (contact with semen and vaginal fluid), but Hepatitis B is much more likely to spread through sex than Hepatitis C.
Vaccines are currently available for Hepatitis A and B. Research is underway for a Hepatitis C vaccine, but progress has been slow.
Interested in more details? Check out this CDC summary, and go the CDC Hepatitis home page. Learn about hepatitis, how to avoid it, treat it, and prevent it. If you have more questions, come visit us at Student Health Services. We have professionals who can get you answers, provide testing, and offer you the available vaccines.
Roger Miller, MD
OSU Student Health Services