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What are the differences between Hep A, Hep B, and Hep C?

That is a great question that people often ask, so here are the basics, with some links to more detailed information.

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver, but Hep A, B, and C are caused by different viruses.  Though they all impact the liver and may cause similar symptoms, the modes of transmission are different for each.

This is a basic chart of the differences between Hepatitis A, B and C.   The main differences are generally:

  • transmission
  • treatment
  • vaccine

Hepatitis A is transmitted by swallowing feces in contaminated food, water or unwashed hands.  There is a vaccine available for Hep A.  While there is no treatment, the infection often clears on its own after a period of sickness.  For more detailed Hepatitis A info see:    Hepatitis A factsheet from CATIE

Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal fluids.  There is a vaccine available for Hep B.  Many people will clear a Hep B infection after a period of sickness, but for those who don’t (and develop chronic Hepatitis B) there is treatment available to keep the virus from replicating, but it does not cure the infection.  For more detailed Hepatitis B info see:  Hepatitis B factsheet from CATIE

Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood.  There is no vaccine for Hep C.  20% of people can clear the infection without medications, but there are treatments available that can clear (or cure) for many people with Hep C.  For more detailed Hepatitis C info see:  Hepatitis C factsheet from CATIE

Feel free to take any questions you have to your doctor and request screening for hepatitis.