Hepatitis B and hepatitis C

Page last reviewed 21.9.2020

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B is transmitted through unprotected sex or through blood, for example by sharing of needles or syringes when using drugs.

Hepatitis B

 What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

  • Symptoms for hepatitis B include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting or stomach pain, yellow skin, the white or the membrane of the eye turning yellow and muscle or joint pain.
  • Recent hepatitis B infections do not usually show any symptoms. If symptoms appear, they usually disappear within a few weeks.
  • Most people who get infected with hepatitis B are cured but for some people it may become chronic, which may cause serious liver damage.

 When and how should I get tested?

  • The test can be taken after 8 to 12 weeks of the suspected transmission. A negative result from the test is reliable 4 months after the suspected transmission.

How can I protect myself and how is it treated?

  • Hepatitis B usually gets better without any treatment. A person suffering from chronic hepatitis B can be treated with virus medication or interferon.
  • There is a vaccine against hepatitis B. To protect yourself against sexual transmission of hepatitis B, use a condom and dental dam. If you have anal sex, use a condom and lubricant.
  • Clean needles and syringes prevent infections through drug use.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C is transmitted through unprotected sex or through blood, for example by sharing of needles or syringes when using drugs. The risk of hepatitis C is greater in anal sex than in other types of sex.

What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?

  • Hepatitis C does not usually show many symptoms. Only every fourth person has symptoms which include yellowness, nausea and stomach pain.
  • Most people with hepatitis C carry the infection for the rest of their lives. If not treated, hepatitis C may cause serious liver damage.

When and how should I get tested?

  • Hepatitis C can be tested about 10 weeks after suspected transmission by a blood sample. A negative result from the test is reliable 6 months after the suspected transmission.

How can I protect myself and how is it treated?

  • Hepatitis C is treated with a medication and can be cured completely.
  • To protect yourself against hepatitis C, use a condom and dental dam. If you have anal sex, use a condom and lubricant.
  • Clean needles and syringes prevent infections through drug use.