Hepatitis A, B and C are a group of viruses that affect the liver. The virus infects liver cells and can cause severe inflammation of the liver resulting in long-term complications (i.e. cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV)
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) causes acute liver damage. It is a self-limiting infection, which relies on the body’s immune system. Although, most infections do not become chronic and most people recover with little or no liver damage, emphasis is place on infection prevention. Hepatitis A is vaccine preventable and transmission is through the oral-fecal route. Therefore hygienic practices (i.e. proper hand washing, food preparation, clean water) are essential in containing the spread of disease.
Symptoms include mild fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and the yellowing of the eyes and skins (jaundice).
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can cause both acute and chronic infections. Approximately 25% of the infections remain persistent and have severe pathological consequences such as chronic hepatic insufficiency, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Most chronic infections develop though in utero transmission from mother to child. Adults infected with HBV have a greater chance of overcoming the infection.
Globally, hepatitis B causes 60–80% of all primary liver cancers. HBV is a transmitted through bodily fluids.
The diagnosis of HBV infection is based typically on evaluation of serological and virological markers of HBV infection in serum and the evaluation of biochemical and histological markers of liver disease. Three standard blood tests for Hepatitis B can determine whether a person is currently infected with HBV, has recovered, is a chronic carrier, or is susceptible to HBV infection.
HBV is vaccine preventable and chronic infections can be treated with long-term antiretroviral therapy.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) has one of the highest rates of developing into chronic infections. Of those infected with HCV, about 60% become chronic carriers. There is currently no vaccine widely available and however there are treatment options available and many under development with the promise of a cure.