Historically Many People Were Not Tested
Previous testing recommendations only encouraged testing for those who were thought to be at risk. Those who were screened for hepatitis C included: anyone who had ever injected illegal drugs people who had received an organ transplant or a blood transfusion before 1992, anyone who was given clotting factor concentrates made before 1987, children who were born to infected mothers, patients who were part of a long-term kidney dialysis program, people who were diagnosed with HIV, anyone with symptoms or who had an abnormal liver enzyme test, people who received an organ transplant from a donor who was later diagnosed with hepatitis C, and those who worked in the medical field and may have been exposed to the virus.
Although seemingly expansive, that criteria missed a large number of infected individuals, and they remain undiagnosed. Many people who are at risk are reluctant to identify their risk factors. Others are entirely unaware that they have an infection, because they dont have symptoms, and they dont know they are at risk. This is especially true with those who were exposed as infants or as children.
What You Need To Know About Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is an infection caused by a virus that can be transmitted during sex, by sharing equipment to use drugs and through household contact with someone who has hepatitis B. The virus infects the liver. Most people recover from the infection on their own, while some develop a permanent infection. Treatment can help with symptoms and keep a chronic infection under control. There are many ways to lower the chance of getting or passing on hepatitis B, including getting vaccinated.
The words we use here CATIE is committed to using language that is relevant to everyone. People use different terms to describe their bodies. This text uses medical terms, such as vagina and penis, to describe genitals. Other people may use other terms, such as private parts or dick or front hole. CATIE acknowledges and respects that people use words that they are most comfortable with.
Who Gets Hepatitis C
Persons at highest risk for HCV infection include:
- persons who ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago,
- people who had blood transfusions, blood products or organ donations before June 1992, when sensitive tests for HCV were introduced for blood screening, and
- persons who received clotting factors made before 1987.
Other persons at risk for hepatitis C include:
- long-term kidney dialysis patients,
- health care workers after exposures to the blood of an infected person while on the job,
- infants born to HCV-infected mothers,
- people with high-risk sexual behavior, multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases,
- people who snort cocaine using shared equipment, and
- people who have shared toothbrushes, razors and other personal items with a family member who is HCV-infected.
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Should You Get Tested Or Vaccinated Against Hepatitis A
In general, if you are showing symptoms of a hepatitis A infection, or you believe you may have been exposed to the disease, you should consult your physician to determine the next steps. A single shot of the hepatitis A vaccine can help prevent contracting the disease if you receive it within 14 days of exposure, the CDC says.
Vaccination against hepatitis A is considered a highly effective preventative measure against infection, and is typically given in two shots six months apart, according to the Mayo Clinic. The hepatitis A vaccine is also considered safe for most people, but certain groups such as people who have had life-threatening allergic reactions to the vaccine, those who are allergic to its components, or infants younger than 12 months should not receive it.
If you are unable to receive the hepatitis A vaccine due to health risks, you may be able to receive immune globulin injections. That substance is made from human blood plasma that has hepatitis A antibodies and also helps prevent infection though, the CDC notes, its preventative effects are not considered long-term.
Can You Get An Std Without Having Sex Types And Methods
The S in STD stands for sexually, so you might think that you can only contract an STD after having sex. However, if youve noticed symptoms and Googled, Can you get an STD without having sex? you may be in for an unwelcome surprise.
You can contract an STD from unprotected sex, but you can also contract an STI without having sexual intercourse. The infections can spread through oral sex, kissing your partner, or eating contaminated foods.
Our staff atRapid STD Testing created this guide to answer the common question, Can you get STD without sex? and empower you with the information you need to protect your sexual health.
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What Do Hepatitis C Symptoms Look Like
Hepatitis C infection can go through two stages: acute and chronic. In the early, or acute stage, most people don’t have symptoms. If they do develop symptoms, these can include:
- flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
- jaundice, meaning your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow
While for some people, the infection will clear without treatment, in most cases, acute infection will develop into long-term chronic infection. Chronic infection may not become apparent for a number of years until the liver displays signs of damage. These symptoms can include:
- mental confusion and depression these are specific to hepatitis C
- constantly feeling tired
- nausea, vomiting or tummy pain
- dark urine
- feeling bloated
- joint and muscle pain
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver , which can cause the liver to stop working properly. A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer and these complications can lead to death. Other than a liver transplant, theres no cure for cirrhosis. However, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Fact : Risk Of Sexual Transmission Is Generally Low
Just like the other blood-to-blood transmission scenarios, risk through sex is very low, says Dr. Diaz. For example, the Hepatitis C Association notes that fewer than 3% will contract HCV through unprotected sex with a heterosexual, monogamous HCV-positive partner.
Theres also an extremely small chance of transmission through bodily fluidslike oral sex or even just kissingbut you would need to have some type of open sore that allows the virus to get into your bloodstream. Your partner would need an open sore, too. Although its theoretically possible, theres never been a reported case of that kind of transmission, Dr. Diaz says.
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Safe Sex And Sexually Transmitted Diseases
All sexually active people should consider safe sex because of the risk of contracting a sexually transmissible infection. STIs include conditions such as genital herpes, HIV, hepatitis B, gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, crabs and genital warts.
If you have any condition that involves scratching, sores or blisters the possibility of blood-to-blood contact and transmission of STIs is increased.
Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor
People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.
People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms above, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C. Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C.
None of the symptoms above mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but it’s important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if there’s a risk you’re infected, even if you don’t have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about who’s at risk of having the infection.
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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Ways You Can Get An Std Without Intercourse
Sexually transmitted diseases and infections commonly spread through unprotected, penetrative sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
More than likely, you already know that you need to:
- Use protection
- Get tested before engaging in intercourse with a new partner
- Avoid sharing needles.
If you get an STD without having sex, though, you may find yourself wondering, Can I have an STD as a virgin? or Was I born with an STD? While you cannot get an STD from yourself because STDs do not naturally develop, there are ways other than intercourse to contract an STD.
Recommendations For Service Providers
Integrate hepatitis C education into existing sexual health and HIV services for gbMSM:
- Know hepatitis C risk factors. Educate gbMSM about the sexual transmission of hepatitis C. Encourage gbMSM having sex that could lead to hepatitis C to:
- use a new condom for each partner, including on sex toys
- use a new glove for each partner when fisting
- use individual lube containers and regularly apply lube
Integrate hepatitis C testing services into existing sexual health and HIV services:
Integrate sexual health and harm reduction services and programs to support gbMSM:
Recommended Reading: Hepatitis C Cdc Fact Sheet
How Is Hepatitis A Treated
Doctors can determine whether you have hepatitis A by discussing your symptoms with you and ordering a blood test that detects hepatitis A antibodies.
However, the WHO says, there is no specific treatment for the disease, and people typically recover in several weeks or months.
If you do have hepatitis A, the CDC says that doctors will likely recommend rest, along with eating plenty of nutrients and drinking lots of fluids. If you have severe symptoms, you may need to be hospitalized for additional medical care, but hospitalization is unnecessary in the absence of acute liver failure, according to the WHO.
Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis C
Although not common, hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity. Having a sexually transmitted infection, having sex with multiple partners, and engaging in anal sex appear to increase a persons risk for hepatitis C. MSM with multiple sex partners who are coinfected with HCV and HIV have been shown to transmit hepatitis C. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. CDC recommends one-time hepatitis C testing of all adults and regular testing for people with risk factors. The American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the Infectious Diseases Society of America also recommend that people who are infected with HCV be provided with curative, direct-acting antiviral medicationsexternal icon to treat their HCV infection.
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Whos At Risk For Hepatitis C
You might be more likely to get it if you:
- Inject or have injected street drugs
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
- Got clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
- Received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplants before July 1992
- Got blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for hepatitis C
- Are on dialysis
Can Hepatitis C Be Prevented
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. But you can help protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by
- Not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
- Wearing gloves if you have to touch another person’s blood or open sores
- Making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools and unopened ink
- Not sharing personal items such toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
- Using a latex condom during sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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Testing For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is usually diagnosed using 2 blood tests: the antibody test and the PCR test. These can be as part of a routine blood test or are often combined as a dried blood spot test. The dried blood spot test is similar to a blood sugar test in pricking the finger to get a blood spot that is put on a testing card. This is then sent to a laboratory to be tested.
Another similar test is an antigen test, which if used can often get the results back in 90 minutes. This is very expensive and not many services have access to the machine needed.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C often doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. This means many people have the infection without realising it.
When symptoms do occur, they can be mistaken for another condition. Symptoms can include:
- flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature
- feeling tired all the time
- loss of appetite
Read more about the complications of hepatitis C.
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How Is Hep C Passed On
You can contract Hep C if the blood of someone who has already contracted Hep C enters your body.
Hep C is spread by:
- Sharing needles or straws during drug use
- Inadequate sterilization of medical equipment
- Transfusions with unscreened blood and blood products
- Unprotected sex with a Hep C carrier
- Mother to baby during pregnancy or birth
Hep C is not spread through breast milk, food, water, or casual contact such as hugging, kissing, or sharing food or drinks with a person who has Hep C.
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Chances Of Catching An Std
Although many people think that STDs are only spread via intercourse, they actually can be contracted many ways. You do not have to have sex to contract or transmit an STD. Because these infections and diseases are caused by separate bacteria or viruses, you can have more than one at the same time. You can also become re-infected with bacterial STDs after treatment if exposed to them again.
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How It’s Passed On
The hepatitis C virus is found in blood and is passed on when infected blood gets into another persons bloodstream. Its seen as unlikely that it can be passed on in semen.
Most people get the virus from sharing drug injecting equipment such as needles, syringes, water cups, tourniquets, spoons, filters and swabs. Sharing things like straws and banknotes that are used for snorting drugs might pass the virus on, as can sharing pipes.
In the UK piercing and tattooing should be safe but unsterilised equipment abroad can spread the virus.
An infected person risks infecting others if they share anything that might have blood on it like a toothbrush or razor. A pregnant woman with the virus can give it to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
Blood transfusions in the UK are safe as blood is screened.
You can also potentially get it from medical or dental treatment abroad in countries where hepatitis C is common and infection control is inadequate.