Hepatitis: More dangerous than you think

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Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that is characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissues of the liver. This condition can progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis virus is the most common cause of hepatitis. However, infections, toxic substances such as alcohol, certain drugs and autoimmune diseases (occurs when the body makes antibodies the liver tissue) can also cause hepatitis.


There are five main types of hepatitis virus namely A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis A virus (HAV): present in the faeces of infected persons and is often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV): This is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from mother to infants at birth or from an infected family member to infants in early childhood. Transmission of B virus may also occur through transfusion of HBV-contaminated blood or blood products. Health workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for HBV-infected patients are at risk of this virus. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV): Mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusion of HCV-contaminated blood or blood products. Sexual transmission is also possible, but it is much less common.

Hepatitis D virus (HDV): This occurs only in people that are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV): Mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water.

How is the virus transmitted

  • Receipt of contaminated blood
  • Sexual contact
  • Sharing of sharp objects like clipper, nail cutter and razors
  • Eating of contaminated food or drinks.

Who is at risk?

  • People who Practice unprotected sex or have more than one sexual partner
  • Alcohol drinkers
  • People who share sharp objects
  • Health workers

How is hepatitis diagnosed?

The virus can be diagnosed through;

Blood tests: blood is used to detect the presence of hepatitis virus. The antibodies and antigens in the blood indicate which of the virus is responsible for the hepatitis.

Liver function tests: This is done to determine how effectively the liber works. It also checks if the liver has been infected or damaged.

Liver biopsy:  Here a sample of tissue from the liver is taken and diagnosed for infection or inflammation or damage.

What do I do, if I have the Virus?

First and most if you have been diagnosed with the hepatitis virus, it is advisable to go for treatment, however; treatment options are determined by which type of hepatitis virus you have.

How can i prevent this disease?

  • Avoid contact with blood
  • Avoid unprotected sex
  • Avoid sharing sharp objects
  • Practice good hygiene to prevent HAV and HEV which are contracted through consumption of contaminated food or drinks.

This disease comes with little or no symptoms so, get tested, seek help and get vaccinated!

Thanks for reading my piece and I hope you will go for a test tomorrow, live well and live long.


  1. Dienstag, Sc(2015).”Chapter 360: Acute viral hepatitis”. In Kasper, D; Fauci, A; Hauser, S; longo, D; Jameson, J; Loscalzo, J. Harrison’s principles of internal medicine, 19e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-180225-4
  2. Hepatitis B and the vaccines (shot) to prevent it: Fact sheet for parents (2014, November 10). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hepb/fs-parents. Html
  3. Hepatitis E. (2015 July). Retrieved from http://www.who.Int/mediacentre/factssheets/fs280/en
  4. Retrieved from http://www.wikipedia.org.hepatitis

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