World Hepatitis Day is THIS Sunday!
In case you didn’t know, hepatitis means inflammation of the liver – also known as viral hepatitis. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Hepatitis A is spread through food or water that has been contaminated with fecal matter.
Hepatitis B is transmitted between people through direct contact with infected blood or other body fluids, such as saliva, semen, and vaginal fluid.
Hepatitis C is spread through direct blood to blood contact, like sharing needles with IV drug use or receiving infected blood in a blood transfusion (prior to 1992).
About 10% of Hepatitis A and 20% of Hepatitis B infections in the US are among gay and bisexual men. Many men have not been vaccinated, even though there is a safe and effective vaccine. Although there is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C, there are new and effective treatments available because prevention and treatment are of the utmost importance.
Although gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men have a higher chance of obtaining viral hepatitis, there are more ways it can be spread besides contact of infected body fluids.
Toxins, certain drugs, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral injections can all cause hepatitis.
In order to be preventative, talk to your doctor about a vaccination; never share razors, needles, or toothbrushes; always wash your hands; and only drink safe water.
Symptoms for viral hepatitis can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, gray-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.
Experts recommend that you (but most importantly, all gay and bisexual men) get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B. The vaccines can be given separately or as a combo, and are safe, effective, and require 2-3 shots over a 6-month period. All shots should be completed to receive long-term protection. It is so important to take preventative measures. Unfortunately, up to 5.3 million Americans have chronic hepatitis infection. Did you know that hepatitis C is 10x more infectious than HIV?!
On top of that, 75% of the infected population are unaware that they have the viral infection!!
Please take the necessary measures to stay healthy by getting vaccinated and receiving regular checkups. Getting regular tests helps look for antibodies of the virus. You can also protect yourself from Hepatitis by using latex condoms, knowing your sexual partner’s history, and the lack of needle sharing.
Spread awareness about hepatitis by relaying the information to your loved ones.