Hepatitis is the condition in which your liver becomes inflamed. The liver, which is the body’s largest internal organ, is responsible for digesting food, storing energy and taking toxins out of the body.
When it’s inflamed, you may not feel hungry, and experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains and diarrhea. Other symptoms of hepatitis include yellowing of eyes and skin and dark-colored urine.
When the disease is not treated, it can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer.
With so many health problems associated with hepatitis, you must learn about the different types to keep yourself safe. The most common kind of liver disease is viral hepatitis, which is classed as hepatitis A, B or C, and is spread through the sharing of needles or contaminated food.
According to Imperial College of London researchers, viral hepatitis is the primary cause of disability and death around the world. The researchers claim it kills just as many people as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS or malaria, using information from 183 countries from 1990 to 2013.
Viral hepatitis is even spread through sexual contact, which makes knowing the information especially important to your health. If a person is infected with the hepatitis virus, you can catch it if you have unprotected sex with them. What information should you know about sexual contact and each type of hepatitis?
Hepatitis A is spread through fecal matter, usually on contaminated food. However, it can also be spread through direct anal-oral contact or fingers or objects that have come into contact with the anus of an infected individual. An infection can occur even in minuscule amounts.
Transmission is possible with any type of sexual activity with an infected individual. Even using condoms may not prevent transmission of the disease. The only surefire way to prevent the transmission of hepatitis A is to get a vaccine for it.
This is a sexually transmitted disease, and if you have sex with a person with, your chances of getting it is high. It’s up to 100 times more infectious than even HIV. The virus can be found in semen, saliva and vaginal fluids. Anal or oral sex can also transmit the virus.
No, you cannot catch it by holding a person’s hand or giving them a hug.
Transmission is usually seen among the unvaccinated who have sex with multiple people. Anyone who has sex with a chronic hepatitis B infection is increasing their chance of getting it. Homosexual men are up to 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with hepatitis B.
According to Infectious Diseases Society of America researchers, there was a case of where two patients at a dental office were infected with hepatitis B, but this rarely happens. Still, with the universal vaccination, it’s possible neither case would have occurred.
In another study from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, researchers found that using highly active antiretroviral therapy for prolong use could help. The treatment was used to help people infected with both hepatitis B and HIV. What they learned was that hepatitis B was more manageable, delaying or preventing complications with the liver.
This isn’t as common as hepatitis A or B, but it is possible to be spread through sexual contact. It’s possible to get the disease by touching an infected individual’s blood, especially if you have open sores or cuts in the genital region. Men could get it if they have sex with a woman during her period.
The disease is prominent among people who have multiple partners.
People who have Hep. C have nothing to worry about so long as they’re in a monogamous relationship. HCV transmission between an infected partner and non-infected partner is very rare.
If you are HIV positive, have more than one sex partner or like rough sex, you increase your risk for spreading the disease. There is no hepatitis C vaccine at this time, which means the only way to prevent it is to protect yourself altogether. Do not share needles and don’t have sex with people you don’t know.
As with any STD, the person’s behavior dictates whether or not they get an STD. Many studies have concluded that women are far more likely to sexually contract hepatitis C than men.
Imperial College of London researchers conducted a study that included a comprehensive package of screening, prevention and interventions to eliminate the possible 15 million new hep. C infections. In turn, this could hinder the diagnosis and deaths of liver cancer and cirrhosis… with a goal of 2030.
To reduce the spread of hepatitis A, B or C, there are several sex acts that needed to be avoided – to ensure no cuts or scratch occur and increase the chance of transmission. They include:
If you plan to have sex with an infected partner, be sure to use a condom or female condom, creating a barrier between the fluids and blood of each partner. It’s also important to get vaccinated for both hepatitis A and B. There is currently no hepatitis C vaccine.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
Here’s what we've been up to recently.
Help stop the spread of STDs by knowing your status. Get tested today!