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Viral hepatitis: a sexually transmitted disease?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are often discussed in the
context of herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and AIDS. Viral hepatitis,
specifically hepatitis B, is also an STD often omitted from these
discussions. The incidence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) is variable
throughout the world. In North America, the highest incidence
occurs in patients who are between the ages of 15 and 25 years.
Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV infection,
which has an associated increased risk of chronic liver disease and
hepatocellular carcinoma in the carrier state. Hepatitis C virus
(HCV) is a newly identified hepatotrophic virus that may also be
sexually transmitted. There are no vaccines for the prevention of
HCV infection and the majority of those who are infected become
chronic carriers with chronic liver disease. Discussions focused on
the prevention of STDs must include counseling for the prevention
of HBV and HCV.
Author: Buzby M, Primary Care Center, Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Source: Nurse Pract Forum 7: 10-15 (1996)
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