Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide

Other types of hepatitis

Hepatitis in general refers to any inflammation of the liver. It can have a variety of causes, including viruses, medicines, alcohol, chemicals and other toxins. Hepatitis C is a serious form of viral hepatitis, especially in the chronic stage of infection. Two other forms of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These can sometimes be confused with Hep C, but the three viruses are quite different.

Comparing Hepatitis A, B & C

  Hepatitis A Hepatitis B  Hep C 
Transmission Fecal-oral route Blood and body fluids Blood-to-blood contact
Disease Progression

Infection usually clears on its own

Mild illness possibly including fatigue, fever and jaundice

85% can clear the virus without treatment

Chronic infection can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer

20% clear the virus without treatment

Chronic infection can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer

Treatment  None Antiviral medications with varying success Antiviral medications with varying success
Vaccine/ Immunity  Yes  Yes  No

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but there are vaccines against hepatitis A and B. 

A person can be infected with more than one hepatitis virus. This co-infection will cause the person to be more ill than if he or she had one virus alone. Getting the vaccines for hepatitis A and B will help protect a person's health, even if he or she already has Hep C.

Other hepatitis viruses:

Hepatitis D is a virus that only infects people with hepatitis B. Like other co-infections, having hepatitis B and D will cause more liver damage than hepatitis B alone. 

Hepatitis E is transmitted similarly to hepatitis A (by contact with contaminated feces). It is not often seen in North America, but it is seen in South Asia and North Africa. 

Hepatitis G is an RNA virus, similar to HCV. It is blood-borne but does not cause disease and can co-exist with other types of hepatitis. No treatment is required for hepatitis G.

Revised 2011.