Feature Article

Viral hepatitis: an A, B, C guide

Feature Article

Viral hepatitis: an A, B, C guide

Catherine Croagh, Paul Desmond

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Abstract

Viral hepatitis is a common cause of liver disease in Australia with a spectrum of clinical manifestations. Although an acute illness with jaundice may mark infection, often viral hepatitis remains silent until the complications of cirrhosis or liver cancer arise.

Key Points

  • Acute hepatitis is usually self-limiting in patients with hepatitis A and in adults with hepatitis B but progresses to chronic infection in those with hepatitis C and children with hepatitis B.
  • Screening of patients in risk groups or those with abnormal liver function tests will help diagnose chronic cases of viral hepatitis.
  • Provision of simple patient advice on prevention of transmission of the hepatitis viruses and implementation of vaccinations required are key roles of the GP.
  • Treatment efficacies have improved and treatment indications widened, thus ensuring more patients have access to therapy is a priority.