Hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections cause irritation (inflammation) and swelling of the liver. You should take steps to prevent catching or spreading these viruses since these infections can cause chronic liver disease.
All children should get the hepatitis B vaccine.
Adults at high risk for hepatitis B should also be vaccinated, including:
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis B and C viruses are spread through contact with blood or bodily fluids of a person with the virus. The viruses are not spread through casual contact, such as holding hands, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, breastfeeding, kissing, hugging, coughing, or sneezing.
To avoid coming in contact with blood or bodily fluids of others:
Safe sex means taking steps before and during sex that can prevent you from getting an infection, or from giving an infection to your partner.
Screening of all donated blood has reduced the chance of getting hepatitis B and C from a blood transfusion. People newly diagnosed with hepatitis B infection should be reported to state health care workers to track the population's exposure to the virus.
The hepatitis B vaccine, or an HBIG shot, may help prevent infection if it is received within 24 hours of contact with the virus.
Holmes JA, Chung RT. Hepatitis C. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 80.
Janssen HLA, Fung S. Hepatitis B. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 79.
Murthy N, Wodi AP, McNally V, Cineas S, Ault K. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older - United States, 2023. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023;72(6):141-144. PMID: 36757861 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36757861/.
Pawlotsky J-M. Chronic viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In: Goldman L, Cooney KA, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 27th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2024:chap 135.
US Preventive Services Task Force, Krist AH, Davidson KW, et al. Screening for hepatitis B virus infection in adolescents and adults: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2020;324(23):2415-2422. PMID: 33320230 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33320230/.
Wodi AP, Murthy N, Bernstein H, McNally V, Cineas S, Ault K. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for children and adolescents aged 18 years or younger - United States, 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022;71(7):234-237. PMID: 35176011 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35176011/.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 8/8/2023
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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