Which is the really dangerous letter?
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are the dangerous versions.
Hepatitis is generally defined as inflammation of the liver. It can be caused two ways:
- Behavioral and environmental factors, like chronic alcoholism and some medications
- Several virus strains, including those denoted by letters (five of them; A through E). The strains are not related in any way.
To be clear, “hepatitis” is simply liver inflammation. “Viral hepatitis” is liver inflammation caused by a virus. The condition is generally referred to by the name of the virus – for example, someone is said to have contracted “Hepatitis A.”
There are vaccines for Hepatitis A, B, and D.
A and E are not serious. They are transmitted through fecal matter, and are common in developing countries.
B, C, and D are exchanged through blood, often incidental to sexual contact.
B and C often lead to chronic hepatitis, and occasionally to liver cancer.
D is considered “defective.” It can only propagate when B is also present.
Why I Looked It Up
I had heard of the letters for years, but never knew which was the one to get really concerned about.
I remember an SNL skit where Abby Elliot played Ke$ha and ended a song with the verse “…I got Hep C.”
In Cutting for Stone, the main character contracts Hepatitis B from sexual contact with a woman who has undergone female circumstances, resulting in bleeding during intercourse. This condition almost kills him.