A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop viral hepatitis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing viral hepatitis. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your health care provider what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for hepatitis vary, depending on the type of hepatitis.

People at Greater Risk

  • Infants born to mothers with hepatitis B or C
  • Children in daycare centers
  • Childcare workers who change diapers or toilet train children
  • Men who have sex with men

Lifestyle Factors

  • Close contact with someone who has the disease
  • Using household items that were used by an infected person and not properly cleaned
  • Sexual contact with multiple partners
  • Sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis or a sexually transmitted disease
  • Injecting drugs, especially if you use shared needles
  • Getting a tattoo or body piercing (because the needles may not be properly sterilized)
  • Having a job that involves contact with bodily fluids, such as:
  • First aid or emergency worker
  • Funeral director
  • Health care workers
  • Dentist
  • Dental assistant
  • Firefighter
  • Police personnel
  • For hepatitis A or E: traveling to, or spending long periods of time in, a country where hepatitis A or E is common (underdeveloped countries) or where sanitation is poor

Medical Conditions and Procedures

Health conditions and procedures that increase the risk of hepatitis include:

  • Hemophilia or other disorders of blood clotting
  • Kidney disease requiring hemodialysis
  • Receiving a blood transfusion, especially prior to 1992 when better screening tests were developed (Even today, screening is not 100% effective in eliminating hepatitis though it is dramatically safer today).
  • Receiving multiple transfusions of blood or blood products
  • Receiving a solid organ transplant, especially prior to 1992 when improved screening tests were developed
  • Persistent elevation of certain liver function tests [People with undiagnosed liver problems]
  • Having had a sexually transmitted disease

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