Health Library

Risk Factors for Viral Hepatitis

A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. Hepatitis spreads from exposure to contaminated:

  • Body fluids:
  • Stool
  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Saliva
  • Food
  • Water
  • Animals
  • Items

Things that raise the risk of hepatitis are:

  • Working in daycare, healthcare, or public safety
  • Not washing hands well—especially after:
  • Changing a diaper or
  • Using the bathroom
  • Close contact with someone who has or carries hepatitis
  • Certain sexual behaviors, such as:
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Anal sex, or oral to anal sex
  • Having many sex partners
  • Having sex with someone who has a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • People who use IV drugs or share needles
  • Babies born to mothers with hepatitis B, C, or E
  • Exposure to items that are not correctly sterilized such as:
  • Medical equipment
  • Tattoo or body piercing tools
  • Being in countries with:
  • Poor sanitation
  • Raw sewage, or
  • Untreated water

Having certain health conditions or procedures such as:

  • Getting blood transfusions, blood products, or organ transplants—mainly before 1992
  • Dialysis to treat kidney disease
  • Ongoing higher than normal liver function tests
  • A weak immune system—from a disease or treatment
  • An STI or HIV

References

Acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hepatitis-a-virus-hav-infection. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Acute hepatitis C infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-hepatitis-c-infection. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-hepatitis-b-virus-hbv-infection. Accessed April 18, 2019.

Chronic hepatitis C infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-hepatitis-c-infection. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Hepatitis C—treatment of genotype 1. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/hepatitis-c-treatment-of-genotype-1. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Hepatitis C—treatment of genotypes 2-6. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/hepatitis-c-treatment-of-genotypes-2-6. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hepatitis-d-virus-hdv-infection. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hepatitis-e-virus-hev-infection Accessed May 2, 2022.

Overview of acute viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-acute-viral-hepatitis. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Overview of chronic hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-chronic-hepatitis. Accessed May 2, 2022.

Thuener J. Hepatitis A and B infections. Prim Care. 2017;44(4):621-629.