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How do I Avoid a Hepatitis Infection?

Many precautions can be taken to avoid a hepatitis infection, from proper hand-washing to practicing safe sex. Several types of hepatitis exist: A, B, and C types, which are spread through different ways and are sometimes easy to acquire, but some steps can be taken to minimize the risk. Hepatitis A is typically spread through fecal-oral contact, meaning a person must consume infected human fecal matter in order to become infected, which can be better avoided with good hygiene. Types B and C spread when a person comes in contact with infected blood or, in the case of type B, infected blood or bodily fluids. These last two types can be avoided by not sharing personal items like razors and toe nail clippers and practicing safe sex.

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Type A hepatitis is spread by consuming even a tiny bit of infected fecal matter. To avoid getting this hepatitis infection, a person must pay special attention to hygiene by always washing his or her hands after using the restroom and before eating. When eating food that is not washed, prepared, and cooked personally, the sanitation of the kitchen the food was cooked in should be taken into consideration. For example, it is usually not a great idea to eat food from street vendors or uncooked food in undeveloped countries. No matter where a person is located, however, the cooks should wash their hands before dealing with food and serve hot food rather than cold or lukewarm food that has been sitting for a while.

Hepatitis infection type B is frequently spread through sexual contact. Being infected this way can be avoided by having the partner tested for sexually transmitted hepatitis and other diseases before engaging in any sexual activity. If this is not a possibility, another way to reduce but not eliminate the risk is by using a latex condom and avoiding anal contact and all other activities that can result in cuts or abrasions, which increase the likelihood of getting a hepatitis infection. This hepatitis infection is also spread through blood contact in the same way hepatitis C is spread.

Type C hepatitis infection is spread through infected blood in ways that are not often thought of by the layperson. Sharing razors, needles, or any other personal item that may come into contact with infected blood can lead to hepatitis infection. In addition, blood used for transfusions that are not screened for diseases is risky because the blood may be infected with hepatitis, other diseases, or both.

Getting vaccinated for type A and B can help avoid hepatitis infection. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, however. These vaccinations are generally highly recommended before traveling to another country.

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