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What are the Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B Viruses?
Hepatitis A Virus
Hepatitis A (Hep A) is a liver disease that causes your liver to swell and can prevent it from functioning normally. A healthy liver is essential to help your body fight infections, remove toxins like drugs and other poisons from your blood as well as store energy for when you need it.
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus (HAV) that is spread by close personal contact with someone else who has the infection. You can get become infected with hepatitis A by eat eating food that has been prepared by someone with hepatitis A or by drinking water that has been contaminated by hepatitis A (mostly in parts of the world with poor hygiene and sanitary conditions)
Who is at risk for hepatitis A?
- People who travel internationally, especially developing countries.
- People who live or have sex with an infected person.
- People living in areas where children are not routinely vaccinated.
- day care children and employees.
- Users of illicit drugs.
How can hepatitis A be prevented?
The hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity to adults and children older than age 1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine hepatitis A vaccination for children aged 12 to 23 months and for adults who are at high risk for infection. Treatment with immune globulin can provide short-term immunity to hepatitis A when given before exposure or within 2 weeks of exposure to the virus. Avoiding tap water when traveling internationally and practicing good hygiene and sanitation also help prevent hepatitis A.
What is the treatment for hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A usually resolves on its own over several weeks.
Hepatitis B Virus
Hepatitis B (Hep B) is a liver disease that causes your liver to swell and prevents it from working normally. A healthy liver is essential to help your body fight infections, remove toxins like drugs and other poisons from your blood as well as store energy for when you need it.
What causes hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus (HBV) and is spread through contact with HBV infected blood, through sex with an infected person, and from mother to child during childbirth, whether the delivery is vaginal or via cesarean section.
Who is at risk for hepatitis B?
- People who live with or have sexual contact with an infected person.
- People who have multiple sex partners.
- Injection drug users.
- Immigrants and children of immigrants from areas with high rates of hepatitis B.
- Infants born to infected mothers
- Health care workers
- Hemodialysis patients.
- People who received a transfusion of blood or blood products before 1987.
- People who travel frequently internationally.
How can hepatitis B be prevented?
The hepatitis B vaccine offers the best protection. All infants and unvaccinated children, adolescents, and at-risk adults should be vaccinated. For people who have not been vaccinated, reducing exposure to the virus can help prevent hepatitis B. Reducing exposure means using latex condoms, which may lower the risk of transmission; not sharing drug needles; and not sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers with an infected person.
What about Complementary & Alternative Medicine?
Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV), which carries up to a 25% risk of death from liver cancer or cirrhosis, affects approximately 10% of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Americans, compared with 0.5% of the total U.S. population. Poor HBV-related knowledge among APIs is a barrier to prevention, diagnosis, and management of chronic infection. Doctors are generally the most trusted source of health information among APIs, and many APIs use complementary and alternative medicine ( CAM), including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).1
What is the conventional medicine treatment for hepatitis B?
Drugs approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B include alpha interferon and peginterferon, which slow the replication of the virus in the body and also boost the immune system, and the antiviral drugs lamivudine, adefovir dipivoxil, entecavir, and telbivudine. Other drugs are also being evaluated. Infants born to infected mothers should receive hepatitis B immune globulin and the hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth to help prevent infection.
People who develop acute hepatitis B are generally not treated with antiviral drugs because, depending on their age at infection, the disease often resolves on its own. Infected newborns are most likely to progress to chronic hepatitis B, but by young adulthood, most people with acute infection recover spontaneously. Severe acute hepatitis B can be treated with an antiviral drug such as lamivudine.
1.Building Partnerships with Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners to Increase Hepatitis B Awareness and Prevention, by Ellen T. Chang, Sc.D., Steven Y. Lin, B.S, Eric Sue, B.S., Meridith Bergin, B.A., Jordan Su, M.B.A., and Sameul K.S. SO, M.D., THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE, Volume 13, Number 10, 2007, pp. 11251127