What is Hepatitis A?
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 reported in the UK are in people who have returned from overseas. It is an acute (short-term) infection, meaning people usually recover from it quite quickly. However, as part of the acute phase, it can cause life-threatening liver damage, although this is very rare.
How can I catch Hepatitis A?
There is evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted sexually, particularly via anal sex. This is because the virus is found in the faeces of infected people and can be passed on through contact with infected faeces. However, the virus can also be passed in non-sexual ways, through contaminated food and water, drug use (sharing needles) and person-to-person skin contact.
What are the symptoms and signs of Hepatitis A?
Like many Sexually Transmitted Infections (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 (a substance that is normally removed by the liver) from the blood.
Therefore, getting tested is vital to protect yourself against developing these symptoms.
Did you know? …
There are 1.5 million new cases of Hepatitis A reported every year across the globe.
How can Hepatitis A be tested/checked?
Better2Know offers a test for Hepatitis A as part of our Hepatitis Screen which requires only a small blood sample. This sample can then be used for other STI tests you may want to test for, including those in our Full Screen. Results are normally available within 1 working day after we receive your sample.
What are the risks associated with Hepatitis A?
If Hepatitis A is left untreated or unmonitored, a chronic (long-term) infection can increase the risk of contracting HIV and other STIs through unprotected intercourse. It can also cause chronic inflammation of the liver and may eventually lead to liver cancer. Therefore, it is important to get tested regularly and, if necessary, to start a treatment plan.
What if I test positive for Hepatitis A?
Most people do not need specific treatment other than rest, maintaining high levels of hygiene and avoiding alcohol. These precautions will usually result in full recovery within a few weeks. However, it is still important that the infection is monitored to check whether chronic disease develops and to receive advice about the risk of passing the infection on. Better2Know will be able to advise you.
Can I prevent Hepatitis A?
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. Once you have recovered from the Hepatitis A infection, you should have life-long immunity against it.
Book your Hepatitis A test
Better2Know is the world’s leading provider of private sexual health testing services. We will arrange a clinic appointment or home testing kit quickly, and deliver fast and accurate results for your peace of mind. If you have any concerns about your sexual health, please contact us or call our friendly booking team on the number above.