Hepatitis, which means inflammation of the liver, has various causes. These include infections, alcohol and some types of medication. Hepatitis can be hard to spot but can cause health problems and damage to the liver if left untreated.
Viral hepatitis is caused by a group of viruses (A, B, C, D & E) each of these viruses can be spread through various different routes.
Hepatitis B & C can both be spread through – sharing needles and during sexual contact. Hepatitis B is very infectious and can be easily spread by all types of sex. Hepatitis C has been linked to certain types of sex between men but can also be passed on through heterosexual sex. Hepatitis C is harder to catch through sex than hepatitis B but it is still possible.
Most people will notice no symptoms, especially in the early stages of the virus. It is possible to have hepatitis for many years without any symptoms but during this time you can still pass on the infection and it can still cause damage to your liver.
Testing for Hepatitis is done through a blood test.
There is no cure for Hepatitis A and E, as these both clear on their own. Some people with Hepatitis B may naturally get rid of the virus themselves and others may require treatment which in some cases can clear the virus. There is also a vaccination available for Hepatitis B and A. Hepatitis C can be treated with antiviral medication. These vaccinations are offered to all MSM (men who have sex with men) and some other at risk individuals, more information about this can be found on the HIV/PreP section of our website.