Hepatitis

There are three different kinds of hepatitis, some of which are spread more easily than others. Hepatitis A, B and C can all be transmitted sexually, however hepatitis B is the type most likely to be sexually transmitted. All types of hepatitis are serious and affect the liver. Hepatitis B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer and are the most common reason for liver transplants.

Hepatitis A (HAV)

Symptom Overview

Most HAV infections will cause symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice and liver enlargement and tenderness.

Treatment

There are no specific cures for HAV or HBV. There are vaccines available and post-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent infection. There are also medications and treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.

Considerations

HAV is spread through fecal contamination, meaning that it can be spread through anal sex. HAV can also be spread by people preparing or eating food after going to the bathroom and not washing their hands.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for hepatitis. The most effective way to protect yourself from HAV and HBV is to get vaccinated. The vaccines are given in either a series of two shots or three shots (depending on the vaccine) over a six-to-twelve-month period. There is a vaccine available for adults that protects against both HAV and HBV that requires a series of three shots over the course of six months. Latex condoms can also reduce your risk.

Resources: http://www.cdc.gov/std/general/hepatitis.htm

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Symptom Overview

Many HBV infections will not cause any symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include joint pain, skin eruptions, a hive-like rash, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice, and liver enlargement and tenderness.

Treatment

There are no specific cures for HAV or HBV. There are vaccines available and post-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent infection. There are also medications and treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.

Considerations

HBV is spread through blood and other bodily fluids like pus, semen, and vaginal secretions.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for hepatitis. There is no vaccine for HCV. Do not share needles (including those used for piercing or tattooing) or razors. Latex condoms can also reduce the risk of sexual transmission.

Resources: http://www.cdc.gov/std/general/hepatitis.htm

Hepatitis C (HCV)

Symptom Overview

Most HCV infections do not cause symptoms, but will occasionally cause fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, dark urine, jaundice or liver enlargement and tenderness.

Treatment

There is no specific cure for HCV, nor is there a vaccine available. But there are medications and treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.

Considerations

HCV is spread primarily through blood. It has been detected in other bodily fluids, but transmission usually occurs when there is some kind of blood exchange. HCV is typically spread by needle sharing, but can be spread through sex if blood or bloody secretions are present.

Protecting Yourself

As with all STIs, the most effective protection is to abstain from sexual activity or be monogamous with one long-term partner who has tested negative for hepatitis. There is no vaccine for HCV. Do not share needles (including those used for piercing or tattooing) or razors. Latex condoms can also reduce the risk of sexual transmission.

Resources: http://www.cdc.gov/std/general/hepatitis.htm