Kalamaoo County

Health and Community Services Department


Frequently Asked Questions: Sexually Transmitted Diseases – Hepatitis

What is it?
The three main types of Hepatitis – A, B, and C – are each caused by different viruses).  Types B & C are the most dangerous – usually not fatal although there is increased chance of liver cancer. Vaccinations protect against Hepatitis A & B.  Type A spreads through contaminated water and food.  Types B & C mostly transmitted through body fluids.

How do I get it?
Type B (serum hepatitis) and Type C:  Spread by mouth/mouth, mouth/genital or other sexual contact or contaminated needles in drug use, tattooing or ear piercing.  Type A:  Can be spread in foreplay during sex or oral/genital and oral/anal sex.  Also through contaminated food or water. Always wash hands after using toilet.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may appear with a month after contact.  In some cases:  muscle ache, fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, headache, dizziness.  In other cases:  dark urine, light stool color, yellow eyes and skin (jaundice), tenderness in liver area.  Some have no symptoms or mild "flu" symptoms.

Is it dangerous?
Highly infectious in early stages.  Can make you very sick because it can affect liver and all body functions.  Untreated, may develop into serious liver disease or cancer.  Baby born to woman with Type B may develop it and become chronic carrier.  All cases are serious.

Is it common?
Very common but there are safe, effective vaccines that protect against Hepatitis A & B. Consult a medical professional.  Gamma Globulin provides temporary immunity to Hepatitis A.

How do I get rid of it?
Blood diagnosis by health professional is very important!  Get bed rest until symptoms disappear. It may take weeks or months to recover fully.  No alcohol during convalescence.  Use birth control method other than the pill until your doctor say you're completely cured.  NO medication (even over-the-counter drugs) without a health professional's approval.

Remember . . .
Absolute cleanliness and sanitation are important to keep Hepatitis from spreading.  No sex until cured.  Hepatitis B & C may become chronic.

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