Hepatitis A (HAV, Hep A)

Hepatitis Pictures Slideshow: What Puts You at Risk

What is the liver?

The liver is an organ that does many important things. You cannot live without a liver.

The liver

  • removes harmful chemicals from your blood
  • fights infection
  • helps digest food
  • stores nutrients and vitamins
  • stores energy

Picture of the liver
Picture of the liver

Who gets hepatitis A?

Anyone can get hepatitis A, but those more likely to are people who

  • travel to developing countries
  • live with someone who currently has an active hepatitis A infection
  • use illegal drugs, including noninjection drugs
  • have unprotected sex with an infected person
  • provide child care

Also, men who have sex with men are more likely to get hepatitis A.

How could I get hepatitis A?

You could get hepatitis A through contact with an infected person's stool. This contact could occur by

  • eating food made by an infected person who didn't wash his or her hands after using the bathroom
  • drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
  • placing a finger or object in your mouth that came into contact with an infected person's stool
  • having close personal contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill
  • You cannot get hepatitis A from
  • being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person
  • sitting next to an infected person
  • hugging an infected person

A baby cannot get hepatitis A from breast milk.

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