What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and prevents the liver from functioning properly to fight infections and remove harmful substances from the blood.

Hepatitis A is an acute, short-term infection that usually doesn’t lead to long-term liver damage. Healthy people generally recover from hepatitis A without specific treatment after a few weeks. In rare cases—especially in people who have liver disease—hepatitis A can lead to liver failure.

Since the development of the hepatitis A vaccine in 1995, cases in the United States have been reduced to about 2,500 per year. Children are now routinely vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is an increased risk of getting the virus if you:

  • Visit developing countries with limited access to clean water
  • Have sex with someone who has the hepatitis A infection
  • Live with or are a caregiver for someone with the infection
  • Use illegal drugs
  • Have a blood clotting disorder