Illinois action blog

Thursday, July 28, 2011

World Hepatitis Day!

Today is World Hepatitis Day, an event that provides international focus for patient groups and people living with hepatitis B and C. It is an opportunity around which interested groups can raise awareness and influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.

Hepatitis viruses infect the liver. Hepatitis A, B, and C can be transmitted sexually, and hepatitis B (HBV) is the most likely to be spread this way. HBV is present in vaginal fluids, semen, and blood. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted by vaginal or anal intercourse, as well as oral sex. HBV can also be spread by exposure to infected blood, or from an HBV positive mother to her infant during birth.

To protect yourself from HBV, make sure to use latex barriers, such as condoms and dental dams if you are sexually active. Also don’t use unsterilized needles, don’t share hygiene items that could have infected blood on them, such as razors and toothbrushes, and consider being vaccinated against hepatitis B.

About half of all people infected with HBV don’t show signs or symptoms. Those who do develop symptoms usually do so within six weeks to six months of infection, and they might experience fatigue, hives, fever, abdominal pain or tenderness, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting. Later symptoms might include jaundice, pale stools, dark urine, and intense abdominal pain.

At least 90 percent of those infected with HBV make full recoveries with an average 12-week recovery time. It is important to note, however, that an estimated 6 to 10 percent of adolescents and adults with HBV become chronic carriers – the virus enters a latent state in the host’s cells, which means that a carrier will remain contagious even after his or her own symptoms have disappeared. They are also at increased risk for liver cancer and cirrhosis, both of which can be fatal.

At Planned Parenthood we offer preventative care in the form of a Hepatitis A and B vaccine called TWINRIX, which is recommended for those 18 and over. Contact your local health center to find out more and schedule an appointment today. You can get more information about hepatitis B at Planned Parenthood’s website, the CDC’s website, or the Hepatitis B Foundation.

Technorati tags: Planned Parenthood, hepatitis, get tested, HBV,

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