Hepatitis is basically inflammation of the liver. The liver is responsible for assisting with digestion of food, storing nutrients, helping your body detox and producing essential substances to help the cells in the body grow and reproduce.Â So, you can imagine that if a personâ€™s liver is inflamed then their body doesnâ€™t function 100%! There are 3 main types of hepatitis:
There are 6 different hepatitis viruses named Hep A, B, C, D, E and G â€“ yes, they somehow missed F!
Alcoholic or other drug hepatitis
Caused by alcohol poisoning or high doses of drugs including prescription medication
Where a personâ€™s immune system doesnâ€™t work properly and causes their liver to become inflamed
Youâ€™ve probably heard more about Hep A, Hep B and Hep C. But which is which? Do you how theyâ€™re transmitted? Are you at risk of contracting it? Weâ€™re guessing youâ€™re a little foggy so weâ€™ve written a few facts about each of them to help answer your questions.
Is contagious and is transmitted via the faecal to oral route (i.e. getting bits of poo in the mouth). How do you protect yourself against it? Easy! Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 15 secs after going to the toilet, engaging in sexual contact or anything else where you may touch bits of poo. There is also a vaccine so if you had childhood vaccinations (remember those at school!?) you probably got vaccinated against it then. Itâ€™s also recommended if youâ€™re planning on travelling overseas (particularly to developing countries).
Hep B is both a BBV (blood-borne virus) and an STI (sexually transmitted infection) and can be transmitted via blood-to-blood contact, through unprotected sex and through sharing of injecting, tattooing and piercing equipment. Hep B is also found in saliva, urine and other fluids including breast milk, but generally at low levels which usually do not cause transmission of the virus. So how do you protect yourself against it?
- Put bandaids over cuts
- Donâ€™t share your razor/ toothbrush/ body jewellery or nail clippers
- Clean up blood spills using gloves (also wise to use antiseptic, disposable paper towels and sealed plastic disposable bags)
- Use condoms/ dental dams/ gloves with water-based lube when having sex
- Wear shoes and watch out for needles when walking in public places like a park or the beach
- Use sterilised equipment when injecting/ getting tatts or piercings â€“ all licensed, reputable places should be extremely careful about sterilising equipment.
- A vaccine is also available so ask your GP about it!
Want to know more about getting a tat done safe? Check out YEP Crewâ€™s â€˜Think Before You Inkâ€™ video here:
Hep C is a BBV (blood-borne virus) and is only transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. How to protect against it? Same as for Hep B â€“ see above. Thereâ€™s no vaccine for Hep C yet so being blood aware is vital to preventing infection. Treatment is provided free to Australian citizens and for many, it can be cured.Â Want to know more about Hep C? Visit Hepatitis WAâ€™s website: http://www.hepatitiswa.com.au/about-hepatitis/hepatitis-c.html and check out this AWESOME hip hop and animation video â€˜Transmissionâ€™ put together by some young men in Victoria:
Itâ€™s important to know how to be blood aware and protect yourself and friends/partners against BBVs. Getting tested for BBVs is a key part of that. YEP Crew is based in W.A, so we recommend Hepatitis WA as a good starting point to find out more information. Visit their website here: http://hepatitiswa.com.au/ to find out more about the symptoms and treatments of the different types of hepatitis. For Hepatitis Councils in other states, look here: http://www.hepatitisaustralia.com/about-us/members.
Remember, be safe and donâ€™t share blood (unless you donating via a blood bank â€“ youâ€™re not a vampire!
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