Friday, 9 May 2008

Q & A

UPDATED: MAY 16 2008
This will hopefully become the page where we dispel some of the myths surrounding hepatitides in general by asking some of the everyday questions we can have about hepatitis. I've come up with some questions to which I have thoroughly searched the answer and I will keep updating the page regularly. If there are any hepatitis-related questions you would like to have the answer for on this page, feel free to send them to me [] and I will do my best to find the answers for us.
[Disclaimer: All the information presented in this page represents the opinion and findings of the sources quoted in a specific answer. The author of this blog does not claim to possess any authoritative knowledge on the topic and the purpose of this page is to bring together information from different sources. Therefore, this information should only be used as a starting point for your personal research. Remember, if you feel you might have been at risk of contracting any form of hepatitis, get tested.]

How can I get tested? [Kindly submitted by DJ Barron]

What is hepatitis and how many types are there?

Hepatitis means liver inflamation. It is caused by a virus. Around half of all acute cases of hepatitis are due to a viral infection. Several kinds of hepatitis virus can infect the liver, but the most common are the hepatitis A and B viruses.

Hepatitis A is caught through the contamination of food and water with faeces (stools) through poor personal hygiene or sanitation.

Hepatitis B is spread through the exchange of blood and body fluids. It can be caught through unprotected sex, unsterilised needles, needlestick injury (accidental puncture of skin by a used needle), or contaminated blood products.

Hepatitis C is also spread through the exchange of blood or blood products. It is spread through sharing needles and needlestick accidents. It was also spread by blood transfusions before September 1992, when screening for hepatitis C was brought in.

There are four other recognised hepatitis viruses, named from C to G. Hepatitis A and E cause only acute infection, while hepatitis B and C cause chronic (ongoing) illness. Hepatitis D is only present in people infected with hepatitis B. The glandular fever virus can also be a cause of hepatitis.
[Source: NHS_Hepatitis#]

[back to top]

How is it transmitted?

Hepatitis B transmission occurs when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. As such, transmission can most commonly occur whenever a non infected patient comes into contact with bodily fluids containing blood from an infected patient [as when having rough sex or when semen or vaginal fluid might contain blood], blood tranfussions [this risk has decreased greatly since 1992], sharing drug-taking paraphernalia and some health workers might be also at risk when attending patients who are infected.
People at risk of contracting Hep B:

• Men who have sex with men
• Heterosexual persons with multiple sex partners
• Injecting drug users who share or have shared needles
• Persons with a history of sexually transmitted infection (STI)
• Household contacts of those infected with HBV
• Newborns of HBV-infected mothers
• Sex partners of those infected with HBV
• Inmates of long-term correctional facilities and prisons
• Patients undergoing hemodialysis
• Healthcare workers and public safety workers with frequent blood contact
• Clients and staff at institutions for the developmentally disabled
• Recipients of certain blood products and transfusions
• Travelers to areas of high HBV endemicity
There is also a very useful and easy to use fact sheet from the Centre For Disease Control and Prevention, which can be foud here:

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection occurs when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected.
The Hepatitis C Virus is spread through sharing needles or "works" when "shooting" drugs, through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth
[Source: CDC.Gov]
Although it can be sexually transmitted, the level risk of infection is accepted to be really low.
You can also find a very useful fact sheet here:

[back to top]

Is it true that I can get hepatitis just by kissing someone?

The answer is no. Saliva does carry very minimal amounts of the hepatitis virus when people are infected but not enough to pass it on. However, should one or both kissers have sores in their mouths or suffer from bleeding gums, the risk is relatively higher.

[back to top]

I've heard that Hepatitis C is not actually sexually transmitted, is this true?

This is, in my opinion, a very misleading statement that can be found in many scientific journals and that some people can take to mean that the risk of contracting the disease through sex is zero. [For example: 'Although HCV is not efficiently transmitted sexually, persons at risk for infection through injection-drug use might seek care in sexually transmitted disease (STD) treatment facilities, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) counseling and testing facilities, correctional facilities, drug treatment facilities, and other public health settings where STD and HIV prevention and control services are available.' [NGC_report]
Although it is scientifically proven that the chances of passing on the hepatitis c virus through heterosexual intercourse are minimal, it must be pointed out that some sexual activities increase the risk of contracting the disease. As a blood-borne virus, sexual activities where blood might be exchanged [for example, rough anal sex] can still pass on the virus.
So, although considered a low risk level, sexual intercourse might still be an important factor in the spreading of hepatitis C. People with several sexual partners or who practice rough sex should always use a condom to reduce the chances of exchanging blood or having bodily fluids like semen mixed with infected blood.
Please refer to this fact sheet for more info:

[back to top]

How can I get tested? [Submitted by DJ Barron]

In the UK, the best way to get tested is by approaching your nearest Sexual Health Clinic where you can either book an appointment or attend one of their drop-in centres. There you can have a confidential chat with a specialist who will be able to answer your questions and get your blood tests underway if deemed necessary. To find your nearest Sexual Health Clinic, click here and select the 'Infection testing (GUM) clinics' option, followed by your post code [UK only].

Alternatively, you can approach your personal practitioner who will be able to advise you.

I haven't been able to find info about other regions of the world but I'm on it. However, if you believe you might have contracted hepatitis, visit your personal/family doctor who will be able to advise you

[back to top]


DJ Barron said...

Firstly thankyou for a very clear set of explanations, as a teacher I often visit web resources to better inform myself on an issue before I teach it and I am often left furstrated. However already after just a brief read I feel much better informed about the various Hep viruses and importantly you have provided places to even better inform myself.

Secondly you mentioned about testing? How would one go about it, do you have to ask a doctor specifically or could you for example ask if being tested for STI/D's or during a normal health check?

Euclides Montes said...

Thanks very much for your support. I'm always happy to hear people find the blog useful. I've updated the Q & A section, answering your question and I hope this makes it a bit easier. Thanks again for your kind messages.


Prometheus Search

Search this blog