What is it?
Hepatitis A can be spread by contaminated faeces. It is a risk for anyone who has oral-anal sex. This risk is increased if one partner has recently been to a developing country.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. It is most common in developing countries that have poor sanitation and untreated water. Most cases of Hepatitis A infection reported in the UK are in people who have returned from overseas. It is an acute infection, not a long term condition. This means that people usually recover quite quickly. However, as part of the acute phase, it can (very rarely) cause life threatening liver damage.
Did you know…
There are 1.5 million new cases of Hepatitis A reported every year across the globe.
How can I get it?
There is evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted sexually, particularly in anal sex, as the virus is found in the faeces of infected people and can be passed on through contact with infected faeces. Contaminated food and water, eating from dirty cutlery or unclean salads, drug use (sharing needles) and person-to-person contact (sexual intercourse and skin contact) are the most likely ways for the virus to be passed on.
How do I know if I have it?
Like many STIs the virus often has no symptoms. When symptoms do occur they can include flu-like illness, weakness, tiredness, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. Jaundice (where the skin or whites of the eyes may appear yellow) can also occur if the liver becomes unable to remove bilirubin from the blood (a substance a normally functioning liver can remove). Many Hepatitis A infections last around six months.
How do I test for it?
Better2Know offers a test for Hepatitis A as part of our Hepatitis Screen. A small blood sample is needed. The same sample can also be used for other STI tests you may want to order, including all those in our Full Screen. Results are normally available the same day that the sample is received in the testing laboratory.
How is it treated?
Most people with the infection do not need specific treatment other than rest. They eventually make a full recovery in a few weeks. They should be immune from further Hepatitis A infections. However, it is still important that the infection is monitored to check whether chronic disease develops, and important to receive advice about the risk of passing the infection on You should also avoid alcohol and maintain high personal hygiene standards to avoid passing the virus on.
You can choose to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A with Better2Know. The vaccination offers you excellent protection against the Hepatitis A virus. For more information see our vaccines page.
If Hepatitis A is left untreated or unmonitored, you may be at risk of developing a more serious health problem. It can cause chronic inflammation of the liver, and may lead to liver cancer. As your immune system is fighting the infection, you will be at more risk of contracting other infections including STIs and HIV.