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JAMA Patient Page
July 13, 2005

Hepatitis A Virus

JAMA. 2005;294(2):270. doi:10.1001/jama.294.2.270

Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is one of several viruses that specifically target the liver. Infection with HAV generally leads to a self-limited illness that causes temporary liver inflammation (damage to cells) but does not require specific treatment. However, in rare cases, the infection may result in a more serious illness, leading to liver failure (loss of liver functions) or death. As many as 30% of individuals in the United States have evidence of past infection with the virus. The virus is found in the feces of infected persons and is most commonly transmitted through person-to-person contact and through the ingestion of water or food that has been contaminated with feces from infected individuals. Infection with HAV is more common in developing countries where poor hygiene may be more common. The July 13, 2005, issue of JAMA includes an article about trends in HAV infection in the United States over the past decade.