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Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are three main types: A, B and C - B and C being increasingly common among people living with HIV.

What happens if you have hepatitis?

Hepatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis happens after initial infection and is short term. It can lead to chronic hepatitis which is long term.

Some types of hepatitis - such as hepatitis A - only cause acute infection.

Others can be long term (chronic) and cause lasting damage to the liver. Very serious cases can lead to liver failure or cancer.

Some types of hepatitis can be vaccinated against and treated.

Viral causes of hepatitis

There are seven viruses that are known to cause hepatitis. These are designated by the letters A to G. However, the cause of some hepatitis is still unknown, leading scientists to believe there are other viruses that have yet to be discovered.

The three most common viral forms of hepatitis are:

The other forms of hepatitis - D, E, F and G - are very rare.

'Co-infection' with hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus is increasingly becoming a major cause of illness in people with HIV. Both these viruses affect the liver, can make you very ill and in some cases can be fatal. But there are treatments, and these can work well in people with HIV.

What does the liver do?

The liver is a large organ on the right hand side of your body. It has many important functions including turning food into energy and filtering toxins- including alcohol and medicines.

Hepatitis means ‘inflammation of the liver’ - this can happen because of a viral infection or because of exposure to alcohol.

Next: Hepatitis A ››

‹‹ Back to: Gonorrhoea



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  • i know someone with Hepatitis B ,
    and his refusing treatment, but his got 3 kids with another woman i know and his a hepatitis b positive and she has come back as a negative but they been together for 15 years? is it impossible not have transmitted during, sex in the making as 15 years is a long time?

    Posted 16:59 Sun 13 Jan 2013
  • to answer the question below,

    90% of partners of HBV positive wives are not hbv infected when tested during maternity at 3 months.

    The science behind this fact is that hbv is very infectious in only 10% of patients sexually. these sexually infectious patients have high viral loads of 1 million plus, as a result the hbv get into their sexual fluids also and they become sexually infectious. Further along with the 10% with high loads most HBV patients are sexually infectious in the first episode of infection, rather like flu hbv is having very high loads initially which usually settle to a low load after 6 months. It is important to remember, especially if HIV positive that HBV is easily and often caught from shared razors, contact sport, forgetting hand plasters, tattooes and piercings and overseas healthcare. All HIV patients must get HBV vaccinated to avoid infection, not just those who are sexually or drug taking active. Further below the 3 children and wife will have been vaccinated and like HIV he may be uninfectious on medication.

    Posted 18:37 Sun 03 Jul 2016
  • Thank you for taking the time provide feedback about our hepatitis B information. The hepatitis section of our website was reviewed in September 2015 so the information is up-to-date and accurate. All of our information is accredited by The Information Standard which means that it is reviewed regularly, evidenced, peer reviewed and user tested.

    In this section of our website we are providing an overview of hepatitis and its prevention and treatment and are focusing on the main ways it is acquired in the UK rather than worldwide.

    Most people in the UK with acute infection acquire hepatitis B either sexually or through injecting drug use, so we would advise people who are in a high risk group to have a vaccination and also to use condoms to prevent sexual transmission. Condoms also help prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as unplanned pregnancies.

    If you have any further feedback, please feel free to get in touch via feedback@tht.org.uk

    THT Web Team

    Posted 16:52 Wed 12 Oct 2016

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 11/9/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 11/9/2018

Content Author: R. Scholey

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

British Liver Trust, About the liver

NHS Choices, Alcohol-related liver disease, September 2013

Women's Health, Viral hepatitis fact sheet, Office on Women's Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, July 2012

Avert, Hepatatis A, B and C

British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, Clinical Effectiveness Group, United Kingdom National Guideline on the Management of the Viral Hepatitides A, B & C (2008)

Edited by Stephen Morse et al, Atlas of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, Third Edition, Mosby (2003)


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