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Preventing hepatitis B or C

Description

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections cause irritation (inflammation) and swelling of the liver. You should take steps to prevent catching or spreading these viruses since these infections can cause chronic liver disease.

Vaccines

All children should get the hepatitis B vaccine.

Adults at high risk for hepatitis B should also be vaccinated, including:

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Lifestyle

Hepatitis B and C viruses are spread through contact with blood or bodily fluids of a person with the virus. The viruses are not spread through casual contact, such as holding hands, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, breastfeeding, kissing, hugging, coughing, or sneezing.

To avoid coming in contact with blood or bodily fluids of others:

Safe sex means taking steps before and during sex that can prevent you from getting an infection, or from giving an infection to your partner.

Other steps you can take

Screening of all donated blood has reduced the chance of getting hepatitis B and C from a blood transfusion. People newly diagnosed with hepatitis B infection should be reported to state health care workers to track the population's exposure to the virus.

The hepatitis B vaccine, or a hepatitis immune globulin (HBIG) shot, may help prevent infection if it is received it within 24 hours of contact with the virus.

References

Kim DK, Hunter P. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older - United States, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68(5):115-118. PMID: 30730868 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30730868.

LeFevre ML; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for hepatitis B virus infection in nonpregnant adolescents and adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(1):58-66. PMID 24863637 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24863637.

Pawlotsky J-M. Chronic viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2020:chap 140.

Robinson CL, Bernstein H, Romero JR, Szilagyi P. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization schedule for children and adolescents aged 18 years or younger - United States, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68(5):112-114. PMID: 30730870 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30730870.

Wedemeyer H. Hepatitis C. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 80.

Wells JT, Perrillo R. Hepatitis B. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 79.


Review Date: 7/13/2019
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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