What is hepatitis? Hepatitis is a serious virus that can attack the liver. There are five types of hepatitis, but most common types are called Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Hepatitis is easily spread through sex, but there are other ways it can be spread, too.
You can get hepatitis A through vaginal, oral or anal sex with a person who has it and also through blood contact (like sharing needles used for drugs, tattoos or piercings). It is mostly passed when a healthy person eats/drinks food or water that has come into contact with the feces (poop) of an infected person.
Hepatitis B is spread through vaginal, oral or anal contact with an infected person and by any contact with infected blood (like sharing needles).
Hepatitis C is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person. It is less common to get this type from sexual contact, but it can happen.
What are the signs and symptoms? What can happen?
Sometimes there are no signs at first. Hepatitis can cause a number of symptoms, including: yellow eyes and skin, stomach pain or swelling, muscle weakness, joint pain, rashes, nausea or vomiting, dark urine, loss of appetite, fever and tiredness. Symptoms show up 1-9 months after contact with the hepatitis virus.
Left untreated, hepatitis can cause many health problems, including serious illness and even liver failure.
Is there a cure? How is it treated?
No, there is no cure for hepatitis. There are medicines to treat hepatitis that are available from healthcare providers.
How can you prevent it?
There are vaccines for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B that will prevent the disease; talk to your healthcare provider about them.
Because hepatitis can be spread through blood and feces, it is best to avoid contact with the blood of another person. This can mean sharing needles or even razors.
Remember that the only method that is 100% effective in preventing STDs is abstinence, but if you’re sexually active, the best way to avoid STDs is to use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex.
Latex condoms give good protection against hepatitis during vaginal, anal and oral sex on a penis. For protection against hepatitis during oral sex on a vagina, you can use a dental dam – a thin square of latex – between the mouth and the vulva. Always avoid coming into contact with the blood or feces of another person.