WHAT IS HEPATITIS (B & C)?

Hepatitis is the medical name for inflammation of the liver. There are different causes of hepatitis, some of which are viruses and can be transmitted through sexual activity, others can be caused by other factors.

HOW DO YOU GET HEPATITIS?

The hepatitis virus is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact.

Some ways the infection can be spread include:

  • sharing unsterilised needles – particularly needles used to inject recreational drugs

  • sharing razors or toothbrushes

  • from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby

  • through unprotected sex – although this is very rare

In the UK, most hepatitis C infections happen in people who inject drugs or have injected them in the past.

It's estimated around half of those who inject drugs have the infection.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Many people with hepatitis B will not experience any symptoms and may fight off the virus without realising they had it.

If symptoms do develop, they tend to happen 2 or 3 months after exposure to the hepatitis B virus.

Symptoms of hepatitis B include:

  • flu-like symptoms, including tiredness, a fever, and general aches and pains

  • loss of appetite

  • feeling and being sick

  • diarrhoea

  • tummy pain

  • yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

These symptoms will usually pass within 1 to 3 months (acute hepatitis B), although occasionally the infection can last for 6 months or more (chronic hepatitis B).

Hepatitis C often does not 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 (fever)

  • feeling tired all the time

  • loss of appetite

  • tummy (abdominal pain)

  • feeling and being sick

The only way to know for certain if these symptoms are caused by hepatitis C is to get tested.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

Here at TADIC testing for hepatitis is done with a blood test. The test is FREE for anyone under the age of 19.

 

Once tested we will be in touch within 1 - 2 weeks with your results. If your test result is negative you will receive a text. If you are positive, you will be invited into the clinic to arrange your treatment.  

If for any reason, you do not hear from us 2 weeks after visiting the drop centre, then please get in touch with us. 

WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE?

For many types of hepatitis there is no treatment, although symptoms can be managed with antiviral medication. It is also important to rest, stay hydrated and also rest your liver (such as not drinking any alcohol). You may also be advised to take painkillers such as ibuprofen. Some infections pass within a few months while others can become chronic.

If you test positive for hepatitis you should tell your current and any recent sexual partners (last six months) so that they can get tested too. 

HOW TO PREVENT HEPATITIS

A vaccine that offers protection against hepatitis B is routinely available for all babies born in the UK.

It's also available for people at high risk of the infection or complications from it.

There's no vaccine for hepatitis C, but there are ways to reduce your risk of becoming infected.

These include:

  • not sharing any drug-injecting equipment with other people – including needles and other equipment, such as syringes, spoons and filters

  • not sharing razors or toothbrushes that might be contaminated with blood

The risk of getting hepatitis C through sex is very low. But it may be higher if blood is present, such as menstrual blood or from minor bleeding during anal sex.

Condoms are not usually necessary to prevent hepatitis C for long-term heterosexual couples, but it's a good idea to use them when having anal sex or sex with a new partner.