Hepatitis B and C

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are both viral infections that primarily affect the liver. While they share similarities, they are caused by different viruses and have distinct characteristics.

  1. Hepatitis B (HBV):
    • Cause: Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is transmitted through contact with infectious blood or bodily fluids, such as through sexual contact, sharing needles, or from mother to child during childbirth.
    • Symptoms: Symptoms of acute hepatitis B may include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and dark urine. However, many people with hepatitis B may not have symptoms.
    • Chronic Infection: While most adults recover fully from acute hepatitis B, some people develop chronic hepatitis B, which can lead to serious liver problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.
    • Prevention: Vaccination is available to prevent hepatitis B infection. It is recommended for all infants and certain high-risk groups, such as healthcare workers and individuals with multiple sexual partners or who inject drugs.
  2. Hepatitis C (HCV):
    • Cause: Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is primarily transmitted through exposure to infected blood, such as through sharing needles, blood transfusions (prior to blood screening), or from mother to child during childbirth.
    • Symptoms: Like hepatitis B, acute hepatitis C may cause symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and jaundice, but many people with hepatitis C also do not experience symptoms during the acute phase.
    • Chronic Infection: Hepatitis C often leads to chronic infection. Left untreated, it can cause liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer over time. Unlike hepatitis B, there is currently no vaccine available for hepatitis C, but effective treatments are available that can cure the infection in many cases.
    • Prevention: Prevention of hepatitis C primarily involves avoiding behaviors that can lead to exposure to infected blood, such as not sharing needles and practicing safe sex.

Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are significant public health concerns worldwide, but hepatitis C is particularly notable for its high rate of chronic infection and the potential for severe liver damage if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for both infections to prevent complications and reduce the risk of transmission.

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