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Transmission, symptoms and screening for hepatitis A, B and C

What are hepatitis A, B and C?

Hepatitis is a virus that attacks the liver. In most cases, no treatment is necessary. Hepatitis is usually eliminated by the body between 2 to 6 months depending on the type of virus. In doing so, the body produces antibodies that protect the individual for life. However, this is not the case for hepatitis C; healing does not protect against a new infection.

Some people with hepatitis B or C become long-term carriers. By attacking the liver, hepatitis B and C can cause chronic diseases (cirrhosis, cancer).

How are hepatitis A, B and C transmitted?

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is present in the stool of an infected individual. Not always visible, stools can be found in water, food or on various surfaces. The virus is transmitted by:

  • Consuming contaminated water or food
  • Touching contaminated objects
  • Initiating contact between the mouth and the anus
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Preparing or consuming drugs under unsanitary conditions

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is transmitted mainly through:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal or anal)
  • Blood (contaminated blood, open wounds, sharing needles for drug use)
  • Other body fluids (tears, saliva and breast milk)

Mothers can pass the virus on to their babies during pregnancy and childbirth.

Hepatitis C

The main means of transmission of hepatitis C is through blood. It is passed on by:

  • Sharing drug or steroid injection equipment
  • Sharing of drug use equipment
  • Receiving blood, blood products or immunoglobulin before 1992
  • During tattooing, piercing or acupuncture sessions with non-sterile equipment
  • Sharing razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, etc.

This virus can also be contracted during sexual intercourse with an infected person. Mothers can pass the virus on to their babies during childbirth.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis A, B and C?

  • Fatigue
  • Belly aches and pains
  • Fever
  • Dark urine and pale stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting
  • Jaundice

How to get tested?

  • Blood test (detecting an antigen or antibody)

Did you know?
The number of reported cases of hepatitis B has stabilized in Quebec in recent years. This demonstrates the importance of vaccination, especially for people at risk.

Pour en savoir plus
Si vous avez des questions ou désirez obtenir plus d’information, n’hésitez pas à communiquer avec le service à la clientèle de Biron au 1 800 463-7674.