Magazine article Corrections Forum

ABCs of Hepatitis A Primer

Magazine article Corrections Forum

ABCs of Hepatitis A Primer

Article excerpt

Most people don't give a second thought to contracting the hepatitis virus, but it is a serious and contagious desease that affct numerous Americans each year, sometimes without their knowledge. It also may be contracted from persons who are undiagnosed, and it may have long-term, serious complications that may even lead to death. As a prison official you may be more cognizant of the consequences of this health hazard which correction officers are exposed to on a daily basis. The following is a basic primer of risk factors and symptoms of the three types of this disease.

HEPATITIS C

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT HEPATITIS C?

You probably don't think about hepatitis, let alone hepatitis C, but 4 million infected Americans probably wish they had.

HEPATITIS C IS ABOUT FOUR TIMES MORE COMMON THAN HIV.

Hepatitis C is a serious form of hepatitis that infects the liver, may lead to liver damage, and often causes liver failure. Most liver transplants are needed because of hepatitis C. When that happens, your liver cannot filter waste, bacteria and poisons from your blood.

If that doesn't worry you, this might: Most people don't realize they are infected and never get treatment. Many die each year due to liver damage (cirrhosis) or liver cancer.

THERE IS NO VACCINE AVAILABLE TO PREVENT HEPATITIS C.

If you think you may have hepatitis C (see accompanying chart), you should talk with a doctor or healthcare professional. A simple blood test can determine if you have this strain. If you test positive, you may be given medication to help treat the disease and you will need to avoid alcohol, avoid or limit certain medications and get plenty of rest. Many cases of hepatitis can't be cured.

SIMILAR RISK FACTORS

Many of the risk factors for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are the same for hepatitis C. Therefore, a person infected with hepatitis C has a greater risk of liver damage if also contracting A or B. Again, the good news is that unlike hepatitis C, there are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Anyone in direct contact with persons at high risk or persons that have the disease should be vaccinated against both.

HEPATITIS A

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT HEPATITIS A AND GETTING VACCINATED?

Hepatitis A is also a serious liver disease. Like hepatitis C, many people with hepatitis A may not have any signs or symptoms of the disease, but can still pass it on to others. Most people feel sick for less than 2 months, although some can be sick for as long as 6 months. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A virus infection. The doctor may give you medicine to treat your symptoms.

Besides getting the vaccine, always wash your hands with soap and water before you make or touch food, before eating and after using the bathroom.

HEPATITIS B

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT GETTING VACCINATED AGAINST HEPATITIS B?

Hepatitis B can cause lifelong infection, liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer, liver failure and even death. Getting hepatitis B in addition to hepatitis C can be very serious for your health, and can cause complications down the line. It is important to note that the hepatitis B virus is up to 100 times easier to contract than HIV.

If you get hepatitis B, you may never fully recover. There is no specific therapy for acute hepatitis B virus infection, though a physician may give you medication to treat your symptoms.

If you develop a chronic hepatitis B infection, you may be given medications to help treat the chronic infection. You may be a carrier and could spread the disease to those living with you for the rest of your life. Carriers have a much higher chance of developing liver cancer and may eventually die from severe damage to their livers caused by hepatitis B. …

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