How Do You Get Hepatitis A
The hepatitis A virus needs to get from human faeces into the mouth to infect someone. You only need to be in contact with small amounts of faeces to become infected.
Hepatitis A is most commonly passed on by:
eating food prepared by someone with the virus who has not washed their hands properly
drinking dirty water
eating raw or undercooked shellfish from dirty water
injecting drugs using contaminated equipment
being in close contact with someone who has hepatitis A
having sex with someone who has the infection without using a condom or dental dam.
You are more likely to get hepatitis A via anal sex, particularly if you touch the anus with your fingers, mouth or tongue. Touching used condoms, sex toys and douching equipment that have been in someone elses anus can also spread the virus.
How Do You Prevent Hepatitis A
You can stop the spread of the virus by washing your hands regularly, particularly after you go to the toilet or before you prepare or eat food.
If tap water isnt safe you should boil it before drinking or using it to brush your teeth. You should also peel and wash all your fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish.
Sharing contaminated needles and syringes during recreational drug use can also pass hepatitis A on, so its important to use new injecting equipment every time.
You can practise safer sex by using a new external or internal condom or dental dam each time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. You should cover sex toys with a new condom and wash them after use, as well as washing your hands after touching someones anus or handling used condoms and sex toys.
If youre in close contact with someone with hepatitis A or youre in a high-risk group then having the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended.
How Serious Is It
- People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months
- Most recover with no lasting liver damage
- Although very rare, death can occur
- 15%25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer
- More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection
- 5%-25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 1020 years
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Who Is Likely To Be Affected By Hepatitis A
Certain people are more at risk than others for hepatitis A. These include:
- People who use recreational drugs, both injected and non-injected types.
- Men who have sex with men.
- People who have close contact with someone who already is infected.
- People who have close contact with someone adopted from a country where hepatitis A is common, or people who travel to countries where hepatitis A is common.
- People who work with non-human primates.
- People who have clotting factor issues, including hemophilia.
- People who work in child care, or children who are in childcare.
What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis A
If you have not had the vaccine, and your infection has been confirmed by a blood sample, your healthcare provider might give you the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin . This only works if the medicine is given within two weeks of you being exposed to HAV.
If you were exposed and are unable to get the vaccine or the immune globulin, you are likely to recover without treatment. However, your healthcare provider will probably recommend that you follow the following self-care recommendations:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Review any type of medicineprescription and over-the-counterthat you take with your healthcare provider. Even things like supplements or vitamins could cause damage to your liver.
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How Long Does The Hepatitis A Vaccine Last
We dont know exactly how long the protection of the vaccine lasts, but studies have indicated that it lasts at least 20 years in some people and it could last as long as 40 years or more. Having only one dose of the recommended two-dose vaccine has shown to provide protection for at least 10 years.
Vaccination Against Hepatitis A
Vaccination against hepatitis A is not routinely offered in the UK because the risk of infection is low for most people.
It’s only recommended for people at an increased risk, including:
- close contacts of someone with hepatitis A
- people planning to travel to or live in parts of the world where hepatitis A is widespread, particularly if sanitation and food hygiene are expected to be poor
- people with any type of long-term liver disease
- men who have sex with other men
- people who inject illegal drugs
- people who may be exposed to hepatitis A through their job this includes sewage workers, people who work for organisations where personal hygiene may be poor, such as a homeless shelter, and people working with monkeys, apes and gorillas
The hepatitis A vaccine is usually available for free on the NHS for anyone who needs it.
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Can Hepatitis A Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis A is to get the vaccine. The hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all children older than age 1. It begins to protect you only 4 weeks after you are vaccinated. A 6- to 12-month booster is required for long-term protection. Ask your doctor if the vaccination is right for you.
You should also wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after cooking, after using the bathroom, and after changing diapers.
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating and avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish.
You are at higher risk for hepatitis A if you:
- Live with or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A
- Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Are a man who has sex with other men
- Use illegal drugs
- Have a clotting-factor disorder
Tips For Preventing Transmission Through Sex
If youre sexually active with a person who has hepatitis C, there are ways that you can prevent contracting the virus. Likewise, if you have the virus, you can avoid infecting others.
A few steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission include:
- using a condom during every sexual contact, including oral sex
- learning to use all barrier devices correctly to prevent ripping or tearing during intercourse
- resisting engaging in sexual contact when either partner has an open cut or wound in their genitals
- being tested for STIs and asking sexual partners to be tested too
- practicing sexual monogamy
- using extra precautions if youre HIV-positive, as your chance of contracting HCV is much higher if you have HIV
If you have hepatitis C, you should be honest with all sexual partners about your status. This ensures that youre both taking the proper precautions to prevent transmission.
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How Do We Know Sexually Transmitted Hepatitis C Is Happening
Finding out how often HCV transmission happens during sex can be difficult in the real world, when people are not tested for HCV regularly, or when researchers rely on self-report to find out if an HCV infection may have happened during injection drug use. There have been reports from clinicians around the world, however, documenting the sexual transmission of HCV.
We are seeing cases of hepatitis C at Dean Street who report no risk factors other than anal sex, said Sheena McCormack, MBBS, MSc, FRCP, an HIV and sexual health clinician based at the London clinic 56 Dean Street. Incidence is difficult to measure even amongst the PROUD participants who we are seeing and testing regularly as testing practices have changed over time. We were testing HIV-positive individuals who did not report additional risk factors more frequently than HIV-negative attendees but are now testing both populations. My estimate of incidence is 1-2% per year, she told BETA.
Among HIV-positive men attending a sexually transmitted infection clinic in Amsterdam, one study found that the prevalence of HCV increased from 5.6% in 1995 to 10.3% in 2010. This sample did include people who used injection drugs, although only a relatively small percentage of people reported this as a transmission risk .
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Do I need treatment?
- What treatment is best for me?
- Will I need be hospitalized?
- Are there any medicines I should avoid taking?
- Are there foods I should avoid eating?
- Can I drink alcohol?
- How can I protect my family from getting hepatitis A?
- If Ive had hepatitis A, am I at higher risk of getting other types of hepatitis?
- Will I have permanent liver damage?
- How soon before I travel should I be vaccinated?
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Do Women Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Infected With Hepatitis Through Sexual Contact
Sex does not determine the risk of being infected with hepatitis through sexual contact. The presence of behavioral and other risk factors may make a person vulnerable to getting hepatitis by sexual contact. Some studies, however, suggest that it is easier for a man to transmit HCV to a woman than vice versa. Furthermore, MSM are 10 to 15 times more at risk of getting infected with hepatitis B than the general population.
What Is Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A, sometimes called Hep A or HAV, is a viral infection that attacks the liver. The virus is spread by eating or drinking food and water that is contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. Its more common in places with poor sanitation and hygiene conditions and a lack of clean water. But, it can also be passed on through unprotected sex and via sharing needles.
Hepatitis A is not usually serious and clears up on its own after 10 to 14 days. However, hepatitis A has many of the same symptoms as more serious types of hepatitis infections such as hepatitis B or C so its important to get tested.
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What To Know About Hepatitis C During Oral And Anal Sex
Oral sex does not pose an increased risk of transmitting the hepatitis C virus, according to the American Liver Foundation, unless there are open sores or cuts in the mouth. To be safe, however, the CDC recommends using a new latex condom whenever you have oral sex to reduce the risk of transmitting hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections like HIV.
Anal sex is high-risk, though, because rectal tissue is fragile and can easily tear when manipulated or pushed to expand. If the tissue tears and bleeds, theres a chance for blood-to-blood contact. For this reason, its best to always use a condom during anal sex. Its also important to liberally apply water- or silicone-based lubricant to keep anal tissue and condoms from tearing.
If you use sex toys, it may be safest to avoid sharing them. If youre engaging in rough sex that results in skin tears, even tiny traces of infected blood that remain on a toy can pass through openings in the skin although the risk of spreading bloodborne diseases remains very low. Whats more, the human papilloma virus has been transmitted via sex toys, even after cleaning.
Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis A
Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur from any sexual activity with an infected person and is not limited to fecal-oral contact. People who are sexually active are considered at risk for hepatitis A if they are MSM, live with or are having sex with an infected person, or inject drugs. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing hepatitis A transmission among people at risk for infection. CDC has published recommendations for prevention of hepatitis A that identify all groups recommended for vaccination, including hepatitis A vaccination for MSM.
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How Do You Prevent Hepatitis
Both hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine. There is currently no vaccine available to prevent hepatitis C.
To prevent spreading or getting hepatitis A:
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom, changing diapers, touching garbage or dirty clothes, and before preparing food and eating
- Follow guidelines for food safety
- Avoid unpasteurized milk or foods made with it
- Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating
- Keep the refrigerator colder than 40°F and the freezer below 0°F
- Cook meat and seafood until well done
- Cook egg yolks until firm
- Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after contact with raw food
To prevent spreading or getting hepatitis B or hepatitis C:
- Practice safe sex and use a latex condom each time you have sex
- Dont share razors, toothbrushes, or any personal objects that might have blood on them
- Dont share needles or syringes
- Cover cuts and open sores with bandages
- Clean blood off of things with a mixture of bleach and water: use 9 parts bleach to one-part water
Are Men Living With Hiv At Higher Risk
Rates of sexually transmitted hepatitis C are certainly higher among HIV-positive men who have sex with men than HIV-negative men who have sex with men, although its difficult to prove exactly why.
Fierer reasoned that more men living with HIV end up getting HCV through sex because HIV is much more efficient at transmission through sexwhich means that people at risk for getting HCV through sex are more likely to be those who have already been exposed to HIV.
If an HIV-negative man is at risk for acquiring hepatitis C through sex, that means he also might be at risk for acquiring HIV through sex. Chances are, hes going to become infected with HIV first, which is why these cases of hepatitis C appear as though theyre largely affecting HIV-positive men, he said.
The question is, with PrEP breaking down barriers between HIV-negative and HIV-positive men, will the number of hepatitis C infections among HIV-negative men start to rise?
Thats what Ive been saying, said Fierer. We are going to see more cases of sexually transmitted hepatitis C with increased use of PrEP. I dont have a prospective cohort to prove it, but its biological. The sun rises, the sun sets, and infectious diseases are transmitted.
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Who Should Obtain The Hepatitis A Vaccine
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for the following persons:
- Travelers to areas with increased rates of hepatitis A
- Men who have sex with men
- Injecting and non-injecting drug users
- Persons with clotting-factor disorders
- Persons with chronic liver disease
- All children aged 12-23 months children not fully vaccinated by age two
The hepatitis A vaccine may also be used in certain outbreak situations where ongoing transmission is occurring. Although studies of certain occupational groups have not shown an increased risk, such people may consider vaccination if they wish to further reduce their risk or are in communities where ongoing outbreaks are occurring.
Who Should Be Vaccinated
- All children aged 1223 months
- All children and adolescents 218 years of age who have not previously received hepatitis A vaccine
People at increased risk for hepatitis A
- International travelers
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use or inject drugs
- People with occupational risk for exposure
- People who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee
- People experiencing homelessness
People at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection
- People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- People with HIV
Other people recommended for vaccination
- Pregnant women at risk for hepatitis A or risk for severe outcome from hepatitis A infection
Any person who requests vaccination
There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C.
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Who Gets Hepatitis A
Anyone can get hepatitis A, but certain persons are at increased risk of infection, including:
- Children and adults living in areas with increased rates of hepatitis
- Persons traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sex with men
- Injecting and non-injecting drug users
- Sexual contacts of infected persons
- Household contacts of infected persons
Can Hepatitis A Be Prevented
Yes. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Vaccination is recommended for people who fall into the following groups:
- History of incarceration
- Chronic liver disease, including infection with hepatitis B or C
- Men who have sex with men
- Children, at age 1 year
- Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where Hepatitis A is common
- People with clotting-factor disorders
Frequent, thorough handwashing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
If you are a food worker, you should never touch food with bare hands. You should carefully wash your hands after using the bathroom, even if you do not feel sick. Food workers should never work while they are sick with stomach illnesses.
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How Can You Prevent Hepatitis A
There is a vaccine, made from an inactivateddeadvirus to prevent hepatitis A. If you are not sure you have had the vaccine, you can ask your doctor to test you to see if you have been vaccinated.
You can also practice good hand washing hygiene. Make sure you use soap and warm water to wash your hands for at least 15 to 30 seconds after you use the toilet, change diapers, and before and after touching food.
If you are traveling in another country, especially a developing country, drink only bottled water and use only bottled water to brush your teeth, wash your produce, and freeze for ice cubes.