Hepatitis A among Gay, Bisexual and Men who have Sex with Men
posted by Jess Wynn
on 21st June 2017
There is an outbreak of Hepatitis A, particularly among gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men. It is recommended that you take precautions, especially if you are going to World Pride in Madrid.
Hepatitis A information
Hepatitis A is inflammation of the liver, caused by a viral infection.
You can catch Hepatitis A through poor hand washing, contaminated food and water or sex.
During sex, Hepatitis A can be passed on through licking skin,condoms and sex toys that have poo on them. This could include licking the skin near the bum hole (rimming), buttocks, groin or penis (giving oral sex after anal sex).
If you have multiple partners, you are particularly at risk. Some cases have also been linked to people visiting Spain and other European countries.
The symptoms for Hepatitis A aren't usually life threatening. You might not even realise they have it because they can be so mild. Weeks after infection, you might experience:
- Mild flu like symptoms
- Extreme tiredness
- Itchy skin
- Stomach pain
- Yellow skin and whites of the eyes
- Dark urine and yellow poo
Top tips for protecting yourself from getting Hepatitis A:
- Wash your hands, buttocks, groin and penis after sex.
- Change condoms between oral and anal sex.
- Cover toys etc. that are shared during sex with a fresh condom or fresh latex glove for each person.
- Use a condom cut into a square (or another kind of latex barrier like a dental dam) for rimming.
- Use latex gloves for fisting or fingering.
- Avoid sharing sex toys.
You can also get vaccinated against Hepatitis A. You can request this from your GP, or if this isn't possible, ask at your local sexual health clinic.
A blood test is used to diagnose Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A does not have a specific cure. Your body will get rid of the infection by itself, but this can take a few months. Once you've had Hepatitis A, you will be immune and you won't be able to catch it again. However, you can still get Hepatitis B and C.
What should I do next?
It is recommended that you get vaccinated against Hepatitis A, especially if you are going to World Pride in Madrid. You can ask your GP for the vaccination. However if this isn't possible, you should be able to get it from your local sexual health clinic. To avoid a wasted journey, it's sensible to call first to make sure that they have the Hepatitis A vaccination in stock.
If you are not travelling to World Pride, it is still recommended that you ask about the vaccination at your next sexual health check up. Cases are more common in London, but it could spread as people travel within the UK and abroad for the summer so it's best that you take precautions.