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What increases my risk for hepatitis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Your risk of hepatitis increases if you are a healthcare worker in the field of dentistry, medicine and rehabilitative care, including nursing homes. Intravenous drug users and people who have unprotected sex and/or multiple sexual partners also run a higher risk of becoming infected with a hepatitis virus. Other factors that can increase your risk of hepatitis include the following:

  • Contact with infected saliva from shared eating utensils or drinking ware
  • Contact with infected blood (needles, shared razors, toothbrushes, etc.)
  • Travel to areas in the world where hepatitis is common
  • Give or receive tattoos
  • Receive an organ transplant
  • Drink contaminated water or eat contaminated foods
  • Share items or eat food handled by someone who hasn't washed their hands after using the bathroom
  • Using or abusing alcohol
  • Family member with recent hepatitis A
  • Blood transfusion before 1990

Mothers infected with hepatitis B or C can pass the infection onto their newborn during birth. People with HIV or AIDS and other autoimmune disease also have a higher risk of becoming infected with a hepatitis virus.

You are more likely to get hepatitis if you are older, overweight, a smoker, a chronic hemodialysis (mechanical purification of the blood) patient, an intravenous drug user, or a healthcare worker who has contact with blood. Your risk also is higher if you have a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, or work or live in a setting, such as an institution or a prison, that involves a lot of close personal contact.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.