When people talk about STDs, they tend to talk about the biggies right away: herpes, gonorrhea, HPV, and HIV/AIDS. But what about hepatitis? Hepatitis is an STD that affects an estimated 4.4million Americans, most of whom don’t even know they’re infected -- about 80,000 new infections occur each year.
We thought we might give you a little info on hepatitis, the different strains, and the symptoms. There are various kinds of hepatitis and there is no cure, but there is some medical intervention available out there if you are diagnosed.
First of all, a definition from the CDC: "’Hepatitis’ means inflammation of the liver and also refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver. The most common types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.”
The main difference between Hep A, Hep B, and Hep C is this: As kids, we're most likely vaccinated for Hepatitis type A and Hepatitis type B, but there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. So while you can get a Hepatitis B shot and a Hepatitis A vaccine, you can’t be sure that you won’t contract hep C – or the other two strains, since no vaccine is 100% foolproof every time.
All the strains can be transmitted to another person via the fluids or fecal matter of an infected person. Hep A can even be transmitted by eating the food or drinking the water that has come into contact with an infected person.
Drug users are at high risk for any kind of hepatitis because of their use of dirty needles. If you’re an IV drug user, or if you have lots of sex with lots of different people, you should be getting tested for hepatitis. There are also still some reported cases of hepatitis being contracted via blood transfusions, though this is becoming much less common.
Help for Hepatitis
First, get a hepatitis test if you're concerned (as well as other STD tests) If you test positive for hepatitis, there are a few things you need to know:
- See a doctor. He or she will likely recommend you get a hepatitis B shot and a hepatitis A shot right away.
- You have resources. The CDC, hepatitis-friendly sites like this one, and your doctor can help you.
- Your body needs you to be nice to it. Get your sleep, avoid alcohol – it makes hepatitis symptoms way worse – and eat a healthful diet. It makes a huge difference in your well-being and can help keep symptoms at bay.