Science Questions

How many classes of hepatitis virus are there and how are they different?

Sun, 6th Dec 2009

Part of the show Exploring Hepatitis C

Question

Dali Waverider, Second Life asked:

How many classes of hepatitis virus are there and how are they different?

 

Answer

We put this to Graeme Alexander:

Graeme -   Well a lot of viruses can affect the liver, but thereís five that we recognize as important in the liver and they're HepatitisA, B, C, D, and E - rather imaginative arenít we?

The most important thing about hepatitis C is that it, by and large causes an infection that lasts for a lifetime while the other viruses don't (usually).  So that differentiates it quite easily.  And itís an RNA virus whereas hepatitis B is a DNA virus infection.  But thatís sort of a semantic difference.  The important thing about hepatitis C is that it causes lifelong infection in many people.

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