5 Risk Factors for Hepatitis


hAre you at risk for contracting hepatitis? You could be—hepatitis can be contracted in a variety of ways, some of which include everyday habits and activities. Hepatitis A, B and C are all specific types of hepatitis, a gastrointestinal disease. The three types differ, but there are certain actions and lifestyle habits that that will put a person at higher risk for contracting the disease. This is especially unfortunate since hepatitis is a preventable illness—in fact, vaccines are available for both hepatitis A and B. Here are five risk factors for hepatitis and how to avoid them.

1. Unprotected sexual intercourse

Unprotected sexual intercourse poses many serious health risks, one of which is hepatitis. Intercourse that is unprotected can expose a person to STDs such as HIV, as well as all three types of hepatitis. It is essential that men and women take the proper steps to protect themselves during intercourse to prevent the spread of disease.

2. Living with someone who has hepatitis

Even if you are hepatitis free, living with someone who has hepatitis A, B or C can increase your risk of contracting the condition. It is important to discuss your risk factors with your physician and with the person you are living with to ensure you are taking the right precautions.

3. Travel to regions in which hepatitis is prevalent

In certain areas of the world individuals are more susceptible to hepatitis, particularly hepatitis A and B. These areas are usually developing nations or remote areas where vaccines for hepatitis A and B vaccines are limited or unavailable. Receiving the hepatitis A and B vaccines is highly recommended for those traveling to such regions, although your doctor may recommend only one of these vaccines, depending on your destination.

4. Drug use or other high risk behavior

Use of illegal drugs, particularly those that require intravenous needles, poses a serious risk of hepatitis transmission from person to person. Other high-risk behaviors include multiple sexual partners, and sharing toothbrushes and razors.

5. Healthcare workers

Healthcare workers, such as those who work in hospitals or clinics where needles are present, are at an increased risk for hepatitis from accidental needle sticks.

If you believe you are at risk for hepatitis, we advise you to contact San Francisco Gastroenterology to discuss your risk level, and whether testing or a vaccine is recommended.

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