Hep C's siblings
Hepatitis C is just one of a family of
viruses that cause liver inflammation. (There are also noninfectious
causes of hepatitis, including advanced alcoholism and use of
certain street drugs and medications.) As science has become more
sophisticated, we have learned more about the still-growing number
of viruses that cause variations of the disease. Each virus has its
own pattern of transmission, disease progression and medical
intervention -- but generally similar symptoms. Here are hep C's
Hepatitis A: Passed through improper sanitation and food
handling, and sex. Symptoms range from barely noticeable to severe,
requiring hospitalization. Ninety-eight percent recover with no
therapy other than rest. Vaccine is available and strongly
recommended for people also infected with hep C.
Hepatitis B: Transmitted sexually and through blood
products. A significant proportion of people with HIV has active HBV
infection or has recovered from it. Alpha interferon is approved
therapy; 3TC and possibly other anti-HIV medications appear to have
a favorable impact. Preventive vaccination is highly recommended for
those at risk.
Hepatitis D: Aggressive but not widespread; can only
replicate in the presence of HBV and appears to be transmitted the
Hepatitis E: Similar to HAV in transmission and symptoms.
Most recover with rest and no therapy (except for pregnant women, in
whom infection may become severe).
Hepatitis G: The current catch-all for virus that does not
appear to be particularly serious.