Hepatitis A Prevention & Risks

Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, June 6, 2017

How is hepatitis A spread?

Hepatitis A is spread in a couple of different ways. It can be transmitted from person to person through oral-anal sex if one partner is a carrier of the virus. The most common way hepatitis A is spread is through food or water contaminated with the virus.

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Who is at a higher risk for hepatitis A infection?

Anyone planning to travel to locations where the virus is more endemic and have not gotten the hepatitis A vaccine, anyone practicing anal-oral sex with a partner with risk of exposure or anyone who has tested positive for hepatitis A before is at higher risk.

If you’re concerned about hepatitis A or engage in high-risk sexual behaviors, it might be time to get tested.

Can a person infect someone with hepatitis A and not know it?

Yes, hepatitis A is extremely contagious. If you’ve been exposed, you are at risk for passing it along to another Person. Hepatitis A is transmitted by infected stool via anal-oral sex or contaminated food and water. It’s important to take precautions.

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis A?

Yes. There is a safe, effective vaccine for hepatitis A. It is recommended by the CDC that all children receive this preventive measure before the age of one. But, if you are planning to travel to an area where hepatitis A is more common than in the U.S., getting vaccinated beforehand is a smart step to take.

How can I prevent getting or spreading hepatitis A?

If you are concerned about sexually transmitted hepatitis A, it’s important to use protection and avoid ingestion of any stool. Taking precautions when traveling can be helpful in avoiding hepatitis A infection. It can be very difficult to tell when you are coming into contact with contaminated food or drink.

What are the complications from untreated hepatitis A?

Fortunately, with supportive treatment, rest and plenty of fluids, almost all cases of hepatitis A will clear up naturally. But, it’s important to remember that liver infections can get serious if left undiagnosed. Hepatitis A can only be diagnosed with a blood test, so if you are at high risk or concerned, it’s important for you to get tested as soon as possible.

Resources:

NIDDK - Hepatitis A
CDC - Viral Hepatitis - Hepatitis A Information
Mayo Clinic - Hepatitis A
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