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What is hepatitis?


Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. This can be caused by a range of factors, including your lifestyle – drinking alcohol can cause it, for example. Several viruses can also cause hepatitis. Here, we cover the viruses hepatitis A, B and C.

The liver is the largest internal organ in your body. Having a healthy liver is important for everybody, but it is especially important for people living with HIV.

Your liver has an essential role in processing medicines used to treat HIV and other conditions. Viral infections that affect the liver, such as hepatitis Ahepatitis B and hepatitis C, can make you ill and also mean that the liver is unable to process medicines properly.

What is co-infection?

When people have both HIV and hepatitis B or C, this is often described as co-infection. If left untreated, liver disease caused by hepatitis B or C can be very serious. It is a major cause of illness and death in people living with HIV and hepatitis B or C co-infection.

Can hepatitis be treated?

There are treatments for hepatitis B and C, and these can work well in people living with HIV. There are also vaccines for hepatitis A and B. You can read more about prevention, diagnosis, symptoms and treatment of different types of viral hepatitis in this section.

Next: Hepatitis A ››



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 18/7/2014 by R.Bignami

Date due for the next review: 30/7/2017

Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)

Current Owner: G. Hughson (NAM)

More information:

Wilkins E et al. Management of hepatitis viruses in adults infected with HIV 2013. British HIV Association, 2013: http://bhiva.org/documents/Guidelines/Hepatitis/2013/HepatitisGuidelines2013.pdf

NHS – Hepatitis B: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-b/pages/introduction.aspx

NHS – Hepatitis C: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-c/pages/introduction.aspx

Hepatitis C and HIV Co-infection. National AIDS Trust, January 2012: