Hepatitis A: The Basics : What is it? How is it transmitted?
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What is it? How is it transmitted?

Hepatitis A is a type of liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is spread from one person to another when the feces-even trace amounts of it-of someone with HAV gets into another person's mouth. There are a number of ways that this can happen:

  • Eating food-particularly food that is raw or not thoroughly cooked (shellfish, for example)-that has been handled or prepared by someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Drinking water or ice that is contaminated with feces.
  • Engaging in oral-anal sex ("rimming") with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • Coming in contact with blood-to-blood exposure (sharing intravenous drug injection equipment, for example). However, HAV is rarely spread through this type of exposure.
Hepatitis A is an acute form of hepatitis, meaning that it does not cause long-term (chronic) infection. If you have had hepatitis A once, you cannot be infected with the virus again. However, you can still be infected with other hepatitis viruses (hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus, for example).

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Last Revised: July 15, 2010

This content is written by the Hep editorial team.

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