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Hepatitis

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Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver and causes inflammation (swelling). There are five different types of hepatitis, A, B, C, D, E and each kind affects the liver and body differently.

In the United States, the most common types of hepatitis are A, B and C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Viral hepatitis can spread easily. Access to information and resources can help you stay healthy and prevent hepatitis.

Risk Factors of Hepatitis

Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis, according to the CDC. Most cases of hepatitis are viral.

People of all ages can get viral hepatitis. Hepatitis A is spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B and C spread through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. Hepatitis B and C can become chronic, meaning they last a long time. People with hepatitis might not show symptoms right away, but over time, it can harm the liver and cause more serious health problems.

Risk factors that increase the chances of getting and spreading viral hepatitis include:

  • Unprotected sex and sex with many partners
  • Sharing needles and syringes for injecting drugs
  • Using improperly sterilized tools during medical treatments, tattooing and body piercing
  • Passing hepatitis B or C from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth
  • Sharing contaminated personal items like razors or toothbrushes
  • Traveling to high-risk areas where hepatitis is more common
  • A blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992

Preventing Hepatitis

The good news is there are vaccines for hepatitis A and B to protect you. Most people get these vaccines as babies but may get them as adults.

Preventing hepatitis involves getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene and having safe sex. If you are pregnant and have hepatitis B, your newborn can get their first vaccination at birth, followed by other vaccines to protect against infection.

Regular check-ups with a doctor can help monitor liver health and catch any issues early. Talk to your doctor about being screened for hepatitis A, B, and C. If you are diagnosed with, there are medications and treatments to help you. These can manage or potentially cure the condition and protect the liver.

Learn more about Hepatitis C testing through the CDC.

Hepatitis in Bexar County

Medical professionals in Bexar County must report infectious diseases, such as hepatitis. This is to protect residents from outbreaks. The 2022 Bexar County Community Health Needs Assessment [PDF] reports a low number of hepatitis A and B cases. Yet, it shows increased cases since 2015, even though these types can be prevented by vaccines. The report shows a decrease in children's vaccinations during this time, increasing the chances of an infection.

Testing for hepatitis C is available through many Bexar County community organizations that provide and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing.

University Health Resources

Primary Care

University Health primary care providers can screen, diagnose, treat and vaccinate for hepatitis, plus provide education about preventing it.

Viral Hepatitis Program

The Viral Hepatitis Program aims to prevent liver cancer in adults. The program navigates patients to screening for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), provides comprehensive patient and provider education, and links patients diagnosed with HCV to treatment and hepatitis B vaccination.

New Start

New Start provides hepatitis screening and other health services to adults recovering from substance use disorder.

SMASH

SMASH (Substance Misuse and Sexual Health) aims to reduce the spread of hepatitis among men in Bexar County. This program is for men who are at risk for substance use disorder and HIV/AIDS.

Texas Wears Condoms

Texas Wears Condoms offers free at-home HIV test kits. Learn more online.

Community Resources

Hepatitis C Helpline

Help-4-Hep (877-435-7443) is a free helpline for patients to talk one-on-one to counselors about hepatitis C. Peer counselors can tell people how to prevent hepatitis C, reduce the risk of spreading it, and know when to get tested.

Good Days Patient Assistance

Good Days is a national non-profit that helps patients with chronic illnesses like hepatitis C pay for treatment.

Stop HCC-HCV

The Stop HCC-HCV organization teaches people and health care providers about hepatitis C (HCV) and liver cancer. They promote screening and support patients with HCV.

Hepatitis B Foundation

The Hepatitis B Foundation provides information and resources to people living with hepatitis B.

Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination

The Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination advocates for increased access to hepatitis testing and treatment worldwide. Find tools, resources, webinars, research and more on their website.

National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable advocates for the prevention, testing and treatment of viral hepatitis.