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Acute symptoms appear one to three months after exposure to the virus and last two weeks to three months.Acute hepatitis C infection doesn't always become chronic.However, for others, the virus remains in the body, and they develop chronic hepatitis B infection, which is a serious, lifelong condition. It can also be spread by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs.In addition, a mother can pass hepatitis B to her baby during birth.Still, about half of people with HCV don't know they're infected, mainly because they have no symptoms, which can take decades to appear. The largest group at risk includes everyone born between 19 — a population five times more likely to be infected than those born in other years.Long-term infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is known as chronic hepatitis C.

Hepatitis B: Every year, about 40,000 people in the U. Many infected people are able to clear the virus and remain virus-free after the acute stage. Hepatitis B can be spread from one person to another from the blood, semen, or other body fluids of an infected person. S., sexual contact is the most common way that hepatitis B is spread.

Over the last 20 years, there has been a 90% decrease in cases of hepatitis A and an 80% decrease in hepatitis B cases in the U. Health experts believe that immunization efforts have led to this drop in rates of infection. Children who get hepatitis A often don't have symptoms, so they can have the virus and not know it. Fortunately, children are now routinely vaccinated against hepatitis A.

Most people who get hepatitis A recover completely within two weeks to six months and don't have any liver damage.

Gregory Poland, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, explains that hepatitis vaccinations contain a small amount of the inactive virus.

When you get a dose of the vaccine, he says, your immune cells respond by developing immunity against the virus. "So if I get these two doses of hepatitis A vaccine, and then I get exposed 30 years from now, my body will remember that immunity to the vaccine and rapidly start producing antibodies again," says Poland.

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