Types and the Risk Factors of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is
usually transmitted by the faecal-oral route, either
through person-to-person contact or ingestion of
contaminated food or water. Infections are in many
cases mild, with most people making a full recovery
and remaining immune from further HAV infections.
However, HAV infections can also be severe and life
threatening. Most people in areas of the world with
poor sanitation have been infected with this virus.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through
exposure to infectious blood, semen and other body
fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers
to infants at the time of birth, or from family
members to infants in early childhood. Transmission
may also occur through unsafe sexual intercourse,
transfusions of HBV-infected blood and blood
products, contaminated injections during medical
procedures, and sharing of needles and syringes
among injecting drug users. HBV also poses a risk to
healthcare workers who sustain accidental
needle-stick injuries while caring for HBV-infected
people. A safe and effective vaccine is available to
prevent HBV infection.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted
through exposure to infectious blood. This may
happen through transfusions of HCV-infected blood
and blood products, contaminated injections during
medical procedures, and sharing of needles and
syringes among injecting drug users. Sexual or
interfamilial transmission is also possible, but is
much less common. There is no vaccine against HCV.
Both HBV and HCV can cause cancer to humans.
Antiviral agents against HBV and HCV exist.
Treatment of HBV infection has been shown to reduce
the risk of developing liver cancer and death. HCV
is generally considered to be a curable disease but
for many people this is not the reality. Access to
treatment remains a constraint in many parts of the
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur exclusively
in persons infected with HBV. The dual infection of
HDV and HBV can result in more serious disease and
worse outcomes. The hepatitis B vaccine provides
protection from HDV infection.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV), like HAV, is transmitted
through consumption of contaminated water or food.
HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in the
developing world and is increasingly recognised as
an important cause of disease in developed
countries. HEV infection is associated with
increased morbidity and mortality in pregnant women
From the Hepatitis family of viral infections, the
most common and serious is the Hepatitis B & C virus
(HBV & HCV).
Dr. Bobby John states that the risk factors for the
contracting hepatitis include, “The HCV virus is
transmitted through contaminated blood, medical
equipment, including infected needles and through
injecting drug use (IDU). Being a relatively new
virus first identified in 1989 and there is no
vaccine for HCV yet.”
“Most people who were infected long ago with HBV or
HCV are unaware of their chronic infection or their
high risk of developing severe chronic liver
disease. Unknowingly they transmit the infection to
other people. Hence, today, we are experiencing a
silent epidemic. Additionally, the HCV being
asymptomatic does not help detect it at an early