Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size

Understanding Hepatitis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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

Understanding Hepatitis -- Prevention

Many types of hepatitis can be prevented by making informed lifestyle choices. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B. Adequate sanitation and clean personal habits will help reduce the spread of hepatitis A and hepatitis E. In areas where sanitation is questionable, boil water. Cook all food well and peel all fruit. Health care workers or caregivers involved in the treatment of patients with contagious forms of hepatitis should wash their hands, utensils, bedding, and clothing with soap...

Read the Understanding Hepatitis -- Prevention 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

The following groups of people should be screened for hepatitis B virus:

  • People born in areas where HBV is endemic
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Intravenous drug users (both present and former users)
  • Dialysis patients
  • HIV-infected people
  • Pregnant women
  • Family members, household members, and sex partners of HBV-infected people (even if sex occurred on only one occasion)
  • People who have had more than one sex partner within 6 months

Otherwise, routine screening for hepatitis typically is not recommended unless you have symptoms or signs (such as abnormal liver-related blood tests) of the condition.

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

Hepatitus C virus
Slideshow
young couple
Article
 
Hepatitis Basics
Article
Hepatitis Prevent 10
Article
 
Hepatitis C Treatment
Article
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
liver illustration
Quiz
passport, pills and vaccine
Slideshow
 
Scientist looking in microscope
Slideshow
Fatty Liver Disease
Article
 
Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
Article
Picture Of The Liver
Image Collection
 

WebMD Special Sections