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Understanding Hepatitis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis?

Viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis A (HAV), is diagnosed by your symptoms, a physical exam, blood tests, imaging studies such as a sonogram or CAT scan, and sometimes a liver biopsy.

Hepatitis: Who's at Risk?

Recommended Related to Hepatitis

Hepatitis C and Sex

The hepatitis C virus usually spreads through blood. The most common way that people get hepatitis C is through injection drug use, including sharing needles or syringes -- not through sex. But it's possible to get hepatitis C through sex.  You're more likely to get hepatitis C through sex if you or your partner have HIV or another sexually transmitted disease, have rough sex, or have more than one sex partner. To lower your chances of getting hepatitis C through sex, avoid sex acts that could...

Read the Hepatitis C and Sex article > >

For hepatitis C, the CDC recommends that you have a blood test if any of the following is true:

  • You have been notified that you received blood from a donor who later tested positive for the disease
  • You have ever injected drugs, even once many years ago
  • You received a blood transfusion or an organ transplant before July 1992
  • You received a blood product used to treat clotting problems that was made before 1987
  • You were born between 1945 and 1965
  • You have had long-term kidney dialysis
  • You have signs or symptoms of liver disease
  • You have HIV
  • You have a known exposure to HCV

Other people who should consider getting tested for hepatitis C virus include:

  • Children born to HCV-positive mothers (check only after 18 months of age to avoid a false positive result) 
  • Household members of an infected person if toothbrushes, razors, or other objects that may transmit HCV have been shared
  • Hospital and other health care facility workers after a needle stick or exposure to the blood of a person with HCV
  • Public safety and emergency medical workers after a needle stick or exposure to the blood of a person with HCV
  • People who have had a tattoo or a body part pierced with non-disposable needles and ink
  • The sex partner of an HCV-positive person, if traumatic sex or bleeding due to breaks in the skin or other reasons (such as prostatitis -- an inflammation of the prostate gland with occasional bleeding) may have occurred. HCV is generally not transmitted through sexual contact.

The following people who are at increased risk for contracting hepatitis B virus include:

  • People who received a blood or a blood-product transfusion prior to 1972
  • Hospital and health care workers
  • Household members of an infected person
  • Intravenous drugs users (both present and former users)
  • People who have had a tattoo or a body part pierced with an infected needle
  • Sex partners of infected people
  • Travelers to countries where HBV is endemic
  • People who were born to a mother infected with HBV
  • Transplant-organ recipients who received an infected organ

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