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How many types of hepatitis are there?

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Hepatitis AHepatitis BHepatitis CHepatitis DHepatitis EHepatitis type comparisonSummary
There are five types of hepatitis, each identified by letters A–E. Vaccinations are available for some forms of hepatitis, and symptoms can vary from mild to severe.
Medically reviewed by Michaela Murphy, PA-C
Written by Faye Stewart
Updated on

Hepatitis is a broad term for inflammation of the liver. Causes may include:

  • viruses
  • alcohol or drug use or misuse
  • genetics
  • autoimmune conditions — when your body’s immune system attacks your liver

Without treatment, hepatitis can lead to liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis (extensive scarring), or liver cancer.

Hepatitis A

Someone washing their hands in a sink with a thick soap lather covering their hands. This is one of the things to be mindful of when it comes to preventing the 5 hepatitis types
Photography by Solskin/Getty Images

People mainly develop hepatitis A via affected food and water, which usually comes from poop containing the virus. If someone has the virus, you can also get hepatitis A if you come into contact with microscopic amounts of their poop or poop particles.

Washing your hands thoroughly, especially before eating and after using the bathroom, and using barrier methods to practice safe oral and anal sex are the best methods of prevention.

Most older children and adults have severe but short-term (acute) symptoms, including:

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal cramping
  • joint pain

You will usually get better on your own, but symptoms may last for around 8 weeks. Most people will not need medical treatment, but doctors and healthcare professionals may monitor your liver function.

Hepatitis A does not become a chronic or long-term condition.

However, if you already have a chronic liver disease or HIV, you may have a higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms and may need hospital care. There is no specific treatment, so the focus will be on comfort and maintaining a balanced and nutritional diet.

Vaccines are available for hepatitis A, including Vaqta and Havrix, and healthcare professionals recommend them for children ages 12 months to 18 years, adults not previously vaccinated who want protection from hepatitis A, and high risk adults. You are at high risk if you:

  • will be traveling internationally
  • are male and have sex with males
  • use illegal drugs
  • are experiencing homelessness
  • have a job that carries the risk of exposure, like healthcare workers
  • have chronic liver disease
  • have HIV

Hepatitis B

You can get the hepatitis B virus through contact with affected bodily fluids. Sexual partners and people who share needles are at risk. Pregnant people who have the virus can also pass it on to their babies at birth.

While you can develop an acute hepatitis B infection without showing any symptoms, people ages 30 years and older are more likely to experience symptoms that may include:

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal cramping
  • joint pain

It’s possible for hepatitis B to become chronic. If you need treatment, doctors and healthcare professionals may prescribe any of the following antivirals:

  • lamivudine (Epivir)
  • entecavir (Baraclude)
  • tenofovir disoproxil (Viread)
  • tenofovir alafenamide (Vemlidy)

Hepatitis B vaccines include Engerix-B, Recombivax HB, and Heplisav-B. They are available for people of all ages, but check with a doctor or healthcare professional about which is right for you.

The Twinrix vaccine can help protect you from both the hepatitis A and B viruses.

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Hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus transmits through exposure to blood, but while it is present in other bodily fluids, it is rare for someone to pass it on in this way. As with hepatitis B, pregnant people can pass the infection to the baby at birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is most often transmitted through sharing needles or through other equipment people may use to prepare and inject drugs.

Acute hepatitis C infection often has no symptoms. However, it becomes a chronic condition in more than half of people with the infection.

Unlike in hepatitis A and B, there’s no vaccine for hepatitis C, but effective treatments are available.

A doctor or healthcare professional will likely prescribe a combination antiviral medication, such as:

  • glecaprevir and pibrentasvir (Mavyret)
  • sofosbuvir and velpatasvir (Epclusa)
  • ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (Harvoni)
  • sofosbuvir, velpatasvir, and voxilaprevir (Vosevi)

Hepatitis D

The hepatitis D virus is uncommon in the United States. It also transmits through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, but the main difference is that hepatitis D can only occur in people who already have the hepatitis B virus. That means vaccinations against hepatitis B may also effectively prevent hepatitis D.

If you get both hepatitis B and D at the same time, this is called coinfection. If you have chronic hepatitis B and then get hepatitis D, it is called superinfection.

If you have both hepatitis B and D, you may have a higher risk of developing complications.

Currently, no treatments are available specifically for hepatitis D, but researchers continue working toward finding one.

Hepatitis E

The hepatitis E virus is not common in the United States. A person mostly acquires it by eating raw or undercooked pork, venison, wild boar meat, or shellfish. In less developed countries, it often transmits through drinking water contaminated with poop.

The best ways to avoid the virus are to cook meat thoroughly and avoid unsafe water sources. There’s no vaccine available in the United States.

People typically have only short-term hepatitis E symptoms, and much like hepatitis A, most recover fully without liver damage.

If you have a weakened immune system (immunosuppressed), a healthcare professional may suggest taking ribavirin (Virazole).

Hepatitis type comparison

The table below shows a comparison of the different hepatitis types.

TransmissionBecomes chronic?PreventionTreatment
Hepatitis Apoop and contaminated food and waternovaccinesymptom management
Hepatitis Bblood, bodily fluidsyesvaccinechronic infection management
Hepatitis Cblood, bodily fluidsyesscreening of donor blood and taking appropriate precautionschronic infection management
Hepatitis Dblood, bodily fluids, only with hepatitis B infectionyeshepatitis B vaccinecurrently no approved treatments
Hepatitis Epoop and contaminated food and waterin rare cases, yesensuring safe drinking water and avoiding undercooked meat and shellfishsymptom management


There are five types of hepatitis, and each has shared or different characteristics. Knowing how each type of hepatitis virus can transmit gives you the information you need to help keep yourself and others safe.

Speaking with a healthcare professional can help ease any concerns you have about hepatitis. They can also advise you on the best vaccination for your needs.

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