Overview of hepatitis B and C
In hepatitis B, the liver is infected with the hepatitis B virus. This causes inflammation, and the liver isn't able to work the way it should. In the U.S., hepatitis B is one of the most common diseases that can be prevented with a vaccine. Transmission of hepatitis B virus occurs through body fluid exposure such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions or saliva. Needle sticks, sharp instruments, sharing items (razors, toothbrushes) and sex with an infected person are primary modes of transmission in developed countries.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by a blood borne virus. The symptoms of hepatitis C are usually mild and gradual. Transmission of hepatitis C occurs primarily from contact with infected blood, but can also occur from sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby. Although hepatitis C has milder symptoms initially, it leads to chronic liver disease in a majority of people who are infected. According to the CDC, hepatitis C is the leading indication for liver transplantation and is the number one cause of liver cancer in the United States.