Hepatitis A&B

AIDS Care Ocean State wants you to be informed about hepatitis A and hepatitis B. We offer free hepatitis A and B vaccines at our Prevention Center.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool of people with hepatitis A.

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a serious infection that affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus.

  • In 2009, about 38,000 people became infected with hepatitis B.
  • Each year about 2,000 to 4,000 people die in the United States from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B.

How is hepatitis A spread?

It is usually spread by close personal contact and sometimes by eating food or drinking water containing HAV. A person who has hepatitis A can easily pass the disease to others within the same household.

How is hepatitis B spread?

Hepatitis B virus is easily spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also be infected from contact with a contaminated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days.

  • A baby whose mother is infected can be infected at birth

Children, adolescents, and adults can become infected

  • contact with blood and body fluids through breaks in the skin such as bites, cuts, or sores;
  • contact with objects that have blood or body fluids
  • on them such as toothbrushes, razors, or monitoring
  • and treatment devices for diabetes;
  • having unprotected sex with an infected person;
  • sharing needles when injecting drugs;
  • being stuck with a used needle.

What are the effects of hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A can cause:

  • “flu-like” illness
  • jaundice (yellow skin or eyes, dark urine)
  • severe stomach pains and diarrhea (children)
  • People with hepatitis A often have to be hospitalized (up to about 1 person in 5).
  • Adults with hepatitis A are often too ill to work for up to a month.
  • Sometimes, people die as a result of hepatitis A (about 3-6 deaths per 1,000 cases).
  • Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent hepatitis A.

What are the effects of hepatitis B?

  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Pain in muscles, joints, and stomach
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Jaundice (Short-term illness:

  • yellow skin or eyes)

Chronic infection:

  • Liver damage (cirrhosis)
  • Liver cancer
  • Death

Many people who have chronic hepatitis B do not experience symptoms, but the infection is still very serious.

Who should get the hepatitis A and B vaccine?

It is recommended that everyone over one year of age be vaccinated for hepatitis A. The Center for Disease Control provides a more detailed summary of who should be vaccinated and why.

It is recommended that everyone be vaccinated for hepatitis B.

AIDS Care Ocean State offers free hepatitis A and B vaccinations and we encourage everyone who is not vaccinated to make an appointment today.

Information in this section is provided by the Center for Disease control, www.cdc.gov.