What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus, which can affect anyone.
Hepatitis A, B and C all affect the liver, but they are different infections with different causes.
How do you get hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is most commonly passed on through the faecal matter (shit) of a person with the infection. This means it can spread when even tiny amounts enter the mouth. This can include:
- during rimming or arse play
- touching your mouth after handling used sex toys or used condoms
- touching your mouth after fingering or fisting someone
- not washing your hands after going to the toilet
- eating food or using utensils that have been in contact with hepatitis A
- sharing injecting equipment
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
Some guys will have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms can appear 15-50 days after exposure. These may include:
- mild flu-like symptoms, possibly including a fever
- constant tiredness or weakness
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain, often on the right side under the ribs
- joint and muscle pain
- yellow skin and eyes (called jaundice)
- dark urine
- pale faeces (shit)
How do I get tested for hepatitis A?
A hepatitis A test involves a blood test.
You can get tested at your regular doctor or sexual health service.
How is hepatitis A treated?
There is no medical treatment for hepatitis A, but it will usually clear on its own. It can take several weeks for symptoms to pass and most guys make a full recovery.
During this time, you should get lots of rest, avoid alcohol and drink lots of fluids. Maintaining a balanced diet and moderating your fat and salt intake will support your body to clear the virus.
Once you have had hepatitis A and cleared the virus, you will become immune to it and cannot get it again.
What are the best ways to prevent hepatitis A?
There is a vaccine for hepatitis A and also a combination vaccine for hepatitis A and B. Speak to your doctor about the most suitable vaccine for you.
As well as the vaccine, good hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and your partners from hepatitis A. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after sex, and after going to the toilet. Wash and sterilise any sex toys after using them.