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Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and there are a variety of different reasons including viral infection that can cause this. Hepatitis may be present without symptoms. There are three common kinds of Hepatitis that are called A, B and C

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis?

Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), nausea (feeling sick) and flu-like symptoms although sometimes there are no symptoms.
How do I know if I have Hepatitis?

The only way to know if you have any form of Hepatitis is to have a blood test. You can test for Hepatitis at Sandyford or at your GP.
Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is usually passed on through infected food or water, often via poor hygiene.  It is more commonly acquired abroad. Risk of acquiring this infection through sexual contact is low.  Oral-anal sex (rimming), anal intercourse and fingering the anus are the most common sexual activities that allow Hepatitis A to pass between people.

Vaccination may be recommended for men who have sex with men.

This infection usually settles on its own without the need for any specific treatment as the body is able to clear the virus on its own. Rarely, a person with this infection may need hospital treatment.

When people do experience symptoms they may notice tiredness, feeling unwell, loss of appetite and sometimes stomach pain. Jaundice can develop at the same time as darkening of the urine

All people will get immunity to Hepatitis A after they have been exposed to it, you do not become a carrier of this infection as your body clears all traces of it permanently.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is highly infectious and can be passed on through having unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex or any intimate sexual contact with an infected person.

Hepatitis B can also be acquired by coming into contact with infected blood and by sharing any equipment used to inject drugs.

Blood Transfusion in countries outwith the UK may carry a risk of transmission however  all UK blood is screened for Hepatitis B infections and is safe.

Other ways Hepatitis B can be passed is through unhygienic practices in tattoo/piercing parlours (you should always make sure all equipment is sterile and seen to come out of a sealed packet)

Sharing razors or toothbrushes.

Hepatitis B can also be passed on from mother to baby during pregnancy, during birth or post birth. All pregnant women are offered a Hepatitis B test.

Hepatitis B vaccination is available especially recommended for:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • People involved in selling or exchanging sex
  • Injecting drug users
  • HIV positive individuals
  • People who have experienced recent sexual assault (within 6 weeks)
  • Partners or household family members or people with Hepatitis B
  • People travelling to countries where Hepatitis B is more common (check with GP or travel clinic)
  • Health Care workers and others where there may be occupational exposure• 

Hepatitis B may be a self-limiting infection however some individuals become chronic carriers and remain infectious.  These individuals require medical follow up because of the risk of further liver problems

You can get Hepatitis A or B Vaccination at Sandyford or from your GP.
How can I prevent Hepatitis?

The best way to avoid Hepatitis A or B is to have a vaccination course.  Three doses of the vaccine are needed to give full protection.

Anyone with Hepatitis B should use condoms until partner(s) are tested and vaccinated.

Avoid sharing any injecting equipment.
Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is mainly spread through infected blood but can less commonly be acquired through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person or through pregnancy when an infected mother can pass the infection to her child.

The most common route of infection is through intravenous drug use, through sharing needles or works.

There is no current vaccination for this infection.

The infection can resolve without treatment. Blood tests will show the presence of the virus (called an antigen test). If this test is positive, you will need to see a liver specialist at your local hepatitis C clinic (usually at a hospital near you). If the antigen test is negative you will not need to see a liver specialist as it means there is no virus in your body. Specialist clinics may offer antiviral treatment, which can help to treat the virus and cure it in some cases, but a hepatitis C specialist will need to assess how your liver is working and what the best treatment is for you.