Preventing Hepatitis

The following steps can help you prevent hepatitis:

  • Avoid contact with blood or blood products. Use appropriate precautions if this is part of your work.
  • Avoid sexual contact with a person infected with hepatitis or person with unknown health history. Practice safe sex at all times.
  • Use good hand-washing practices. For example, always wash your hands after going to the bathroom and before handling food.
  • Avoid sharing plates, utensils, or bathrooms with someone who has hepatitis A
  • Do not share razors, needles, or toothbrushes.
  • When traveling to certain areas, do not eat uncooked or partially cooked foods. Drink bottled water.
  • Do not use recreational IV drugs. If you are already an IV drug user, never share needles and seek help from a needle exchange or drug treatment program as soon as possible.
  • Be cautious when receiving tatoos or piercings.
  • DO NOT drink alcohol at the same time that you take acetaminophen. If you already have hepatitis, do not use either substance to avoid further damage to your liver.

The following hepatitis vaccines are available:

  • Hepatitis A vaccine is available for people in high-risk groups, like day care and nursing home workers, laboratory workers, and those traveling to certain parts of the world (like Asia and Africa).
  • Hepatitis B vaccine is now given to all infants and unvaccinated children under 18. The vaccine is also available for adults at high risk, such as institutional or nursery workers, health care professionals, intravenous drug users, and persons with risky sexual behavior.

When to get tested for hepatitis:

  • Get tested for hepatitis B or C if you have had sexual contact with or shared needles with someone who may have had one of these viruses.
  • Do this even if you have no symptoms.

A shot of immunoglobulin may prevent infection if:

  • It is given soon after you have had close contact (like kissing or sharing utensils) with someone who was diagnosed with hepatitis A within the last two weeks.
  • It is given right away to an infant born to a woman with hepatitis B along with the hepatitis B vaccine.

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