Site Map

Preventing hepatitis B or C

I Would Like to Learn About:

Description

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.

Vaccines

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.

Lifestyle

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.

Other steps you can take

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 a hepatitis immune globulin (HBIG) shot, may help prevent infection if it is received within 24 hours of contact with the virus.

References

Freedman MS, Ault K, Bernstein H. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older - United States, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(6):193-196. PMID: 33571173 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33571173/.

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.

Pawlotsky J-M. Chronic viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 140.

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, Ault K, Hunter P, McNally V, Szilagyi PG, Bernstein H. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended immunization schedule for children and adolescents aged 18 years or younger - United States, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(6):189-192. PMID: 33571172 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33571172/.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 7/1/2021  

Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo
Health Content Provider
06/01/2025

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2022 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.