Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that is spread through contact with contaminated faeces (poo). It is most commonly found in developing countries where sewage disposal systems and water quality is poor. The risk of catching Hepatitis A is highest if you have had oral or anal sex with a partner that has recently visited a developing country. Most people recover quickly from a Hepatitis A infection. It is important to keep an eye on the infection as in very rare cases Hepatitis A can cause life threatening liver damage.

How common is Hepatitis A?

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

How can I catch Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is often caught through unprotected sex. This risk is higher if your partner(s) has recently visited a developing country. Anal sex is a common way to catch the virus since it lives in faeces and so contact with faeces can cause the virus to spread.

There is an effective vaccine against Hepatitis A and anyone who lives in or is travelling to an area where Hepatitis A is common should consider getting a vaccine. The vaccine protects you from the virus for a year. After six months you will need a booster vaccine to protect you for another 20 years. Contact Better2Know for more information about how to access the Hepatitis A vaccine in your area.

Can I catch Hepatitis A without being sexually active?

Hepatitis A can be spread non-sexually, through contaminated food (e.g., strawberries, as they are usually not washed before eating) or water, sharing cutlery or drug needles, and person-to-person skin contact.

What are the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A often has no symptoms and the only way to know if you have Hepatitis A is to be tested for it. Symptoms are usually seen within 4 weeks of infection and disappear within a few months. Hepatitis A symptoms in women and men include:

  • Weakness

  • Tiredness

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Stomach pain

  • Dark brown urine

  • Pale yellow or grey poo

  • Diarrhoea

  • Jaundice – yellowing of skin or whites of the eyes, itchy skin or rash, and a swollen liver

When should I get tested for Hepatitis A?

If you live in or have recently travelled to a country where Hepatitis A is common and have not been vaccinated or have symptoms, you may wish to take this test. It may provide you with peace of mind to take a test for the virus if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. You may also wish to test if you are sharing drug needles, living in a nursing home, or working in healthcare or wastewater and sewage handling as these may increase your risk of infection.

How do I get tested for Hepatitis A?

At Better2Know, you can test for Hepatitis A on its own, or as part of our Hepatitis screen. The Hepatitis screen is a popular choice as it uses a single sample of blood to test for Hepatitis A, B, and C infections. Both tests will tell you if you are protected from Hepatitis A either through vaccination or previous infection. You should expect to receive your results 1–5 working days after your sample has reached our laboratory.

Take responsibility for your sexual health with Better2Know. Testing with Better2Know is easy, fast, and pain-free. You can book a test today with Better2Know by calling our Sexual Health Advisory team on the number above or online by clicking the Get Started button.

What are the risks if Hepatitis A is left untreated?

There is no specific Hepatitis A treatment as it normally clears up on its own. If left untreated, Hepatitis A increases your risk of catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If not monitored, long-term liver inflammation can develop which can lead to liver cancer. Rarely, Hepatitis A can cause liver failure.

How can Hepatitis A affect a pregnant person and their baby?

A Hepatitis A infection during pregnancy can increase the risk of the baby being born early. Women who are at high risk of catching Hepatitis A during pregnancy should get vaccinated, as the vaccine is low risk. If you do not wish to have the vaccine you should take steps to reduce your risk of catching Hepatitis A. You can do this by changing your job role, avoiding travelling to developing countries, and anyone who has tested positive. If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact your midwife.

What do I do if I test positive for Hepatitis A?

Whilst most people do not need treatment other than rest, it is important to contact your doctor. Your doctor can provide advice on how to reduce the risk of infecting others. You should also avoid drinking alcohol and maintain high levels of cleanliness.

If you test positive for Hepatitis A you should tell people you have had close contact with including sexual partners so they can also get tested.

How is Hepatitis A treated?

Most people recover within a few weeks without any treatment. However, you should rest, maintain high levels of hygiene, and avoid alcohol until you fully recover.

The infection should be monitored for signs of long-term inflammation. Your doctor will also tell you if you need to avoid certain medications.

Can Hepatitis A come back?

Once you have recovered from the viral infection you should be protected by your immune system from Hepatitis A. It normally takes about 6 months for your body to completely clear the infection.

When can I have sex again after being treated for Hepatitis A?

You should not have sex for a week from when your symptoms began. This prevents the spread of the virus to others.

How do I book a Hepatitis A test?

Better2Know is the world’s leading provider of private sexual health testing services. We provide you with fast and accurate testing to give you peace of mind.

You can book a test today with Better2Know by calling our Sexual Health Advisory team on the number above. Our expert Patient Services staff will help you select the right test and book any follow-up appointments if requested. If you prefer to book your test online, you can do so by clicking the Get Started button here.

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