Hepatitis sexually transmitted
There are at least five known hepatitis viruses ranging from hepatitis A to hepatitis E. Hepatitis B (HBV) is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. Found in both blood and body fluids of infected people (in infected semen, vaginal fluids and saliva). Hepatitis B is the most serious type of viral hepatitis.
HBV can cause chronic liver disease and put people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. For some, the virus disappears in six months. Others become lifetime carriers and risk transmitting it to other people. Carriers may develop cirrhosis of the liver and are 200 times more likely to develop liver cancer.
Hepatitis B can be contracted through vaginal, anal, oral sex and even kissing. In general you can get hepatitis B from any sex act if your partner is infected. The higher number of sex partners, the higher the risk of getting HBV. HBV is 100 times more infectious than HIV.
Women with Hepatitis B develop immunity to the HBV, which protects them from future infection with this virus. Still, approximately 5% of individuals infected with HBV will develop chronic or long-lasting liver disease.
These persons are potentially infectious to others. Moreover, patients with chronic hepatitis B are at risk for developing, over many years, severe and complicated liver disease, liver failure, and liver cancer. These complications at times lead to the necessity of a liver transplant.
Hepatitis C is liver inflammation (hepatitis) that is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The HCV causes acute and chronic viral C hepatitis. Unlike hepatitis B, however, hepatitis C is infrequently transmitted sexually, so that it is an unusual sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is primarily spread by exposure to infected blood, such as from sharing needles for drug use, piercing, tattooing, and occasionally sharing nasal straws for cocaine use. Most infected people have no symptoms, so a delayed or missed diagnosis is common. In contrast to hepatitis B, where chronic infection is uncommon, the majority (75%-85%) of people infected with hepatitis C develop chronic (long-term) infection. However, as is the case with hepatitis B, chronically infected individuals are infectious to others and are at an increased risk of developing severe liver disease and its complications, even if they have no symptoms.
Hepatitis B is transmitted from person to person through exchange of bodily fluids: unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex; infected pregnant mother to unborn child; sharing of contaminated drug needles; piercing the skin with contaminated tattoo or piercing needles; piercing the skin with contaminated medical or dental instruments; receiving contaminated blood or blood products; and receiving contaminated tissues or organs.
Since HBV found in blood, body fluids and saliva, sharing earrings, tweezers, toothbrushes or razors with an infected person may also spread the disease.
A large percentage of those infected with Hepatitis are unaware that they are infected. About 30% of those with Hepatitis B experience no symptoms. Others feel like they have just caught a common flu. Hepatitis B symptoms can include:
- yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice);
- fatigue or extreme fatigue;
- loss of appetite;
- nausea and vomiting;
- abdominal pain;
- joint pain and/or muscle aches,
- fever and chills;
- dark, tea-colored urine;
- grey or clay-colored bowel movements.
It typically takes 9 to 21 weeks from the time of transmission for symptoms of Hepatitis B to manifest. Hepatitis B signs and symptoms are more likely to occur in infected adults than in infected children.
HBV is diagnosed by a blood test. There are several outcomes such as surface antigen, core antibody and surface antibody so discussing the results with a doctor is important.
There is no known cure for Hepatitis B. Most infections will clear up within a few months. Those chronically-infected can be treated using the following drugs – Interferon Alfa or Lamivudine. These drugs will not cure Hepatitis B but they can markedly slow down its development as well as decrease the chance of liver disease.
There is no cure for hepatitis B. However, a vaccine has been available since 1982. It is 95% effective in preventing HBV infection. Three shots – in the arm – are required for about 15 years of adequate protection against HBV. The vaccine does not protect against hepatitis A or C, HIV, or any other sexually transmitted infection.
- Those chronically-infected with HBV can develop severe liver disease or liver cancer. As liver cells die, they are replaced with scar tissue. This is known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis prevents the liver from cleansing wastes produced within the body. This can lead to severe illness and even death. About 15-25% of those chronically-infected with the HepatitisB will die.
- HepatitisB during pregnancy is highly infectious to fetuses and newborns. Mothers infected with Hepatitis B can transmit the disease to their child through the umbilical cord. Transmission cannot be prevented by cesarean section. Almost 90% of those newborns infected at birth will become chronic carriers of HBV, increasing their risk for developing liver disease and liver cancer. Pregnant women should have Hepatitis B testing as soon as possible. Those newborns infected with the disease should be given HBV immune globulin (HBIG) and a first dose of HBV vaccine within twelve hours of birth. A second dose of the HBV vaccine should be administered when the baby is 1 to 2 months old, and the third dose should be administered at six months.
Those at risk of contracting HBV include:
- intravenous drug users;
- those who have multiple sex partners or who have unprotected sex;
- males that have sex with other males;
- infants born to infected mothers;
- individuals who get multiple piercings or tattoos;
- those who live or have close contact with a chronically-infected person;
- health care workers;
- staff and residents of correction facilities;
- hemophiliacs requiring blood products;
- those with kidney failure or who require dialysis;
- those traveling to areas where Hepatitis B is common (South America, Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Pacific Islands, Middle East);
- those adopting children from areas where Hepatitis B is common;
- children of immigrants who were born in areas where Hepatitis B is common.
- The best way to prevent the contraction of HBV is to get a Hepatitis vaccination. It is especially important to vaccinate newborns and infants. If vaccinated properly, you are protected for life against the disease.
- In order to prevent contraction of HBV abstain from sex with infected partners, and especially avoid anal sex where exchange of bodily fluids is likely.
- It is also important to minimize the number of sexual partners that you have.
- Though condoms have not been proven to safeguard against HBV, their proper use may reduce the risk of infection.
- Avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, and other personal items with those around you. Check into all health practices before you get a tattoo or piercing.
- If you are a health or medical worker, ensure you follow the proper safety procedures when handling potentially infectious materials.
- If you already have HBV or have had it in the past, do not donate blood, tissues, or organs.
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