What is it?

Hepatitis A is a viral liver infection common in developing countries such as India and Africa. The Hepatitis A infection and any associated symptoms can clear up within a few months, however a rare and potentially fatal complication of Hepatitis A is that the infection can damage the liver and stop it from working properly leading to liver failure. Testing and early detection of any Hepatitis infection is therefore very important.

Did you know?  …

There are 1.5 million new cases of Hepatitis A reported every year across the globe.

How can I get it?

The virus is found in the faeces of infected people and most commonly transmitted through contact with the infected faeces, for example through eating food or drinking water contaminated by sewage. The virus can also be transmitted through sex, particularly through anal sex, and through drug use when sharing a needle with an infected person. Close contact with an infected person involving other sexual activity and skin to skin contact can also cause the virus to be spread.

How do I know if I have it?

The virus often has no symptoms when you are first infected which is why it is important to get tested regularly. Initial symptoms include flu-like symptoms, weakness, joint pain, fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. This may then be followed by jaundice which is the yellowing of the skin and eyes, itchy skin and a swollen liver.

How do I test for it?

Better2Know offers a Hepatitis A test individually or as part of our Hepatitis Screen. A small blood sample is required for this test and if you would like to test for other STIs at the same time then the same sample can also be used. Our Platinum Screen also includes a test for Hepatitis A and tests for 12 other STIs all in one go. Results for Hepatitis A are normally available the same day that the sample is received in the laboratory.

How is it treated?

There is no cure for Hepatitis A however the majority of people do not need a specific treatment other than rest until the infection clears up. People should be immune from further infections once they have recovered. The infected person should be monitored to check whether chronic disease develops. Alcohol and certain medications that affect the liver should be avoided during this period. Better2Know will be able to help you with any advice that you need. There is an effective vaccine against Hepatitis A and anyone who lives in or is travelling to an area where Hepatitis A is found should consider getting this vaccine. Contact Better2Know for more information about how to get this vaccine in your area.

Adverse consequences

A rare and potentially fatal complication of Hepatitis A is liver failure. Having chronic Hepatitis A infection can mean that you are more at risk of contracting HIV and other STDs through unprotected intercourse. Once you have had Hepatitis A and recovered, you should have lifelong immunity to the virus.