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Risk Factors for Viral Hepatitis

It is possible to develop viral hepatitis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing viral hepatitis. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for hepatitis vary, depending on the type of hepatitis.

People at Greater Risk

  • Infants born to mothers with hepatitis B or C
  • Children in daycare centers
  • Childcare workers who change diapers or toilet train children
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who have anal sex
  • People who have multiple sex partners
  • People who inject illicit drugs and share needles

Lifestyle Factors

  • Having close contact with someone who has the disease
  • Using household items that were used by an infected person and not properly cleaned
  • Having sexual contact with multiple partners
  • Having sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis or a sexually transmitted disease
  • Injecting drugs, especially if you use shared needles
  • Using cocaine
  • Getting a tattoo or body piercing—The needles may not be properly sterilized.
  • Having a job that involves contact with bodily fluids, such as:
    • Caring for children who are not toilet-trained
    • First aid or emergency worker
    • Funeral director
    • Healthcare workers
    • Dentist
    • Dental assistant
    • Firefighter
    • Police personnel
  • For hepatitis A or E: traveling to a country where hepatitis A or E is common or where there is poor sanitation

Conditions and Procedures

Conditions and procedures that increase the risk of hepatitis include:

  • Hemophilia or other disorders of blood clotting
  • Kidney disease requiring hemodialysis
  • Receiving a blood transfusion , especially prior to 1992 when better screening tests were developed
  • Receiving multiple transfusions of blood or blood products
  • Receiving a solid organ transplant, especially prior to 1992 when improved screening tests were developed
  • Persistent elevation of certain liver function tests (found in people with undiagnosed liver problems)
  • Sexually transmitted disease

Revision Information

  • Hepatitis Foundation International website. Available at: http://www.hepfi.org. Accessed January 19, 2011.

  • What I need to know about Hepatitis B. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hepb%5Fez/index.htm. Published April 2009. Accessed January 19, 2011.

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