Hepatitis A, B and C: an overview

Compare the differences among hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C with this table.

Hepatitis: a comparison of hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C
 Hepatitis A (HAV)Hepatitis B (HBV)Hepatitis C (HCV)
What is it?A liver illness caused by hep A virus. The virus makes people sick but only for 1-3 weeks.A liver infection caused by hep B virus.
Most people who get hep B as an adult clear the infection.
Most people who get hep B early in life don't clear their infection and have risk of liver disease later in life.
A liver illness caused by the hep C virus. Most people don't clear the virus and, unless successfully treated, have the illness for life.
The illness can cause liver problems.
Window period
(the time between infection and the illness showing up in blood tests)
Blood tests not usually given due to the short nature of the illness.8 weeks (HBsAg)2 weeks (PCR test).
12 weeks (antibody test).
8 weeks (PCR test for babies).
Transmitted byFood or water contaminated with sewerage.
Anything with human faeces (poo) on it that comes in contact with the mouth.
Mother to baby.
Blood-to-blood contact (when someone's blood gets into another person's bloodstream).
Sexual contact.
Blood-to-blood contact (see left).
Mother to baby.
Things which put people at riskHousehold contact with an infected person.
Sexual contact (involving anal sex) with an infected person.
Travelling through developing countries.
Not being vaccinated as a baby.
Being born to a mum who has hep B.
Sexual contact with a person who has hep B.
Sharing fits and equipment when injecting drugs.
Having a needlestick injury.
Tattooing or body piercing with contaiminated equipment.
Sharing fits and equipment when injecting drugs.
Tattooing or body piercing with contaminated equipment.
Having a needlestick injury.
Receiving blood products before February 1990 in Australia.
Medical procedures in developing countries.
Symptoms in short term infectionFeeling unwell, aches and pains, fever, nausea, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, dark urine, followed by jaundice (yellowing of eyes and sometimes skin).
Young children usually have no symptoms.
Often no symptoms, but if they do appear, they include jaundice (see left), dark urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea and joint pain.Often no symptoms, but if they do appear, they are like having a mild flu.
A small number of people may have hep B-like symptoms (see left).
Symptoms in long term infectionNo long term infection.Fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and pains or abdominal discomfort.Fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and pains or abdominal discomfort.
Treatment Not needed.For chronic hep B: entecavir (Baraclude) or tenofovir (Viread). Some people are treated with pegylated interferon. Other medications are available but are less effective and not often used as a first option.From 1 March 2016, direct acting antiviral treatments (for genotypes 1, 2 and 3). Sovaldi taken with pegylated interferon and ribavirin combo treatment (for genotypes 4 and 6).
VaccineYes. It is safe and effective.Yes. It is safe and effective.
Is part of universal childhood vaccination.
None available.
PreventionGet vaccinated.
Household contacts and sexual partners of someone with hep A should be given immunoglobulin (drug that gives short-term protection).
Wash hands after going to the toilet and before eating.
Practice safer sex.
Get vaccinated.
Newborn babies should be given immunoglobulin (see left) within 12 hours of birth.
Don't share fits or other equipment when injecting drugs.
Avoid blood-to-blood contact.
Avoid backyard tatooists and piercers. Use shops that follow proper sterile procedures.
Practise safer sex.
Do not share fits or other equipment when injecting drugs.
Avoid other blood-to-blood contact.
Avoid backyard tatooists and piercers. Use shops that follow proper sterile procedures.
Avoid needlestick injuries.

For more information about anything in this factsheet, phone the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 990 or go to www.hep.org.au.

This factsheet was developed by Hepatitis NSW. It was reviewed by the Hepatitis NSW Medical and Research Advisory Panel.

Last Reviewed: 10 January 2016
Reproduced with kind permission from Hepatitis NSW.

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References

Hepatitis NSW. Hepatitis factsheets: Hep A, B and C. Last updated 10 Jan 2016. https://www.hep.org.au/factsheet-abc/ (accessed Feb 2016).
Hepatitis NSW

Hepatitis NSW

Hepatitis NSW is a not-for-profit charity started by the hepatitis community. Together we inform, support and educate. We provide information, support, referral and advocacy for people affected by hepatitis C in NSW.