HEPATITIS

HEPATITIS C

A chronic liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

How is it transmitted?
The virus is transmitted through blood contact, most commonly as a result of sharing needles in intravenous drug use. Hepatitis C can also be transmitted through unprotected intercourse. The risk of infection is greater in anal intercourse.

When should you get tested?
Hepatitis C can be detected roughly 10 weeks from exposure.

Treatment
Hepatitis C treatments are constantly improving. The currently used intravenous interferon therapy is being replaced by antiviral agents taken orally.

Prevention
There is no vaccine against hepatitis C. Using clean needles helps prevent transmission through intravenous drug use, and condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections.

HEPATITIS B

A liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

How is it transmitted?
Hepatitis B can be contracted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, as well as intravenously, such as through the sharing of needles.

When should you get tested?
Hepatitis B can be detected 8–12 weeks from exposure at the earliest.

Treatment
There is no curative treatment for hepatitis B. Acute hepatitis B is usually self-resolving. Specific antiviral agents and interferon can be used to treat chronic hepatitis B.

Prevention
There is a vaccine against hepatitis B, Engerix, as well as a combination vaccine against hepatitis B and A, Twinrix. In addition, condoms protect against sexual transmission and using clean needles will prevent infections resulting from intravenous drug use.

HEPATITIS A

Caused by the virus hepatitis A.

How it is transmitted
• through drinking water, food or hands
• through faeces containing the virus
• when faeces gets into the mouth while licking the anus
• in unprotected anal or oral sex
• in finger-anus-mouth contact

How it is treated
• heals by itself within 2–4 weeks

There is a vaccine against hepatitis A, Havrix, as well as a combination vaccine against hepatitis A and B, Twinrix. The vaccine against hepatitis A is recommended for people who are travelling to risk areas.