Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide

 

Other types of hepatitis

Key points

  • Hepatitis (liver injury) can result from a variety of causes, including viruses, medicines, alcohol, chemicals and other toxins.
  • There are two other forms of viral hepatitis that can be confused with hepatitis C but are different from hepatitis C. They are hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
  • There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but there are vaccines for hepatitis A and B. Other types of hepatitis viruses that are generally less common in Canada are hepatitis D, E and G.

Hepatitis in general refers to any type of liver inflammation. It can result from a variety of causes, including viruses, medicines, alcohol, chemicals and other toxins. Hepatitis C is a serious form of viral hepatitis. Two other forms of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These can sometimes be confused with hepatitis 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. More serious illness can occur in people with HIV and others with weakened immune systems.

About 95% of adults clear the virus without treatment. The chance of developing chronic hepatitis B becomes much greater if a child is exposed at a young age, especially as an infant.

Chronic infection can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer.

About one in four people clear the virus without treatment.

Chronic infection can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer.

Treatment  None Antiviral medications can help to keep the virus under control. There is no cure.  Antiviral medications cure more than 95% of people.
Vaccine/ Immunity  Yes  Yes  No

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

A person can have more than one hepatitis infection. This co-infection can cause the person to be more ill than if the person has only one virus infection. Getting the vaccines for hepatitis A and B will help protect a person's health, even if they have hepatitis 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, but also through eating undercooked wild meat). It is not often seen in North America. It is most common in in Asia. 

Hepatitis G is an RNA virus, similar to hepatitis C. 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.

Resources for service providers

Resources for clients

Revised 2019.