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10:20 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

The facts you need to know about hepatitis

For those interested in learning how hepatitis affects one's physical as well as mental health, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has published informational sheets on this topic. Many people think that hepatitis is only found among those who use illicit drugs or who engage in unsafe sexual activity. However, there are other ways that hepatitis can be contracted.

Hepatitis B and C are chronic diseases that can lead to life-long issues like liver cancer or liver failure, and, potentially, death. People living with hepatitis B and C often experience a lack of energy and may become unable to participate in regular life activities. The liver is important in breaking down drugs, which enter your body. If you have hepatitis and don't know it, medications and/or illegal drugs may harm your liver. Severe liver diseases may require a liver transplant.

Tips to prevent hepatitis:

• Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B (there is no vaccine for hepatitis C).

• Don't share needles, syringes or other drug ingestion equipment (pipes, straws, joints) or "drug cooking" equipment.

• Don't share jewelry, piercing or tattooing equipment.

• Practice safe sex. Never use an outdated condom when participating in sexual activities.

• Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Excessive alcohol may cause long-term liver damage.

If you are living with hepatitis B or C:

• Talk to your healthcare provider about your liver health issues.

• Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs as they pose potential harm to you and increase liver damage.

• Talk to your healthcare provider about all medications or vitamins you are currently taking.

• Limit red meat and include fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your daily diet.

• Every day, be sure to exercise, drink at least a gallon of water and get plenty of rest.

More information is available at www.azdhs.gov.