Hepatitis A is passed on by swallowing feces (shit or poop). Feces can be in contaminated water and food and on unwashed hands. There is no treatment for Hep A, but the infection usually clears on its own.
Hepatitis B is passed on when the blood, semen, vaginal fluid or rectal fluid of a person with Hep B comes into contact with the blood of another person. Most people clear the virus on their own. In other people, treatment can help slow the virus but will not cure it.
Hepatitis C is passed on through blood-to-blood contact. This most often happens when:
- sharing drug equipment with another person
- receiving blood transfusions or organ transplants that are not screened for Hep C (all blood and organs used in Canada are now screened for Hep C)
- re-using tools for activities that break the skin, including medical or dental procedures, tattooing and piercing
Some people clear the virus on their own, but most people have a long-term infection. Treatment can cure Hep C in many people, but a person can be infected again.
Vaccines can protect against hepatitis A and B, but there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
The only way to know for sure whether you have Hep A, Hep B or Hep C is to get tested.