July is Hepatitis Awareness Month

There are several viruses that can cause hepatitis in adults; these include Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, and G. The most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, para 2). Hepatitis A is mainly transmitted enterally, meaning from fecal matter onto food/fluids that we may eat or drink (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p.756). Symptoms typically worsen with increasing age and most commonly include abdominal pain, jaundice and elevated liver enzymes (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 756). Prevention is key with Hepatitis A and there is a safe, effective vaccine available (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 756). Hepatitis B is relatively uncommon in the geriatric population (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 757). Acute Hepatitis B is usually mild in the elderly, however older individuals with elevated liver enzymes should be tested for the hepatitis viruses before further testing (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 758). In an effort to prevent chronic liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus, it is recommended for the hepatitis B vaccine to be administered early in life and in healthy geriatrics (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 758). Hepatitis C is the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis in the older population (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 759). Many symptoms related to acute viral hepatitis C are mild with the most common being fever, abdominal pain, and jaundice (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 759). Treatment for Hepatitis B and C includes Interferon given to patients with both acute and chronic Hepatitis B and C infections; this is to suppress or stop viral replication and prevent progression of the liver disease to cirrhosis (Marcus & Tur-Kaspa, p. 758, 760). Interferon therapy may also prevent the development of hepatocellular carcinoma as chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the leading causes of hepatocellular carcinoma (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, para 2). Both hepatitis A and hepatitis B are preventable with vaccines and hepatitis C is curable with treatment (Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, para 2).


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis Awareness Month. 2022 April 11. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/awareness/HepatitisAwarenessMonth.htm

Marcus, E. and Tur-Kaspa, R. Viral Hepatitis in Older Adults. JAGS. (1997). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.1997.tb01484.x