Hepatitis… totally manageable!

Hepatitis is a serious illness that affects the liver, and can be caused by viruses. The forms of hepatitis we’re talking about are Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. There are a lot of people who have Hep B and just don’t know it. If left untreated, hepatitis can lead to permanent liver disease and cancer. There is a vaccine available to help protect against Hep B, and most children in Manitoba now are vaccinated in grade 4. Check out this link for more info: http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/fs/hepb.pdf There is no vaccine for Hep C.

The hepatitis virus can be spread through infected blood, semen, and vaginal fluid. (For Hep C, it’s almost always passed on by blood). Hepatitis is not always passed on sexually. Some people get it through sharing used infected needles, a mom can pass it on to her baby (but the baby can get the vaccine for Hep B), and other people aren’t sure how they got it.

This disease is way easier to contract than HIV, and it’s super important not to share anything that comes into contact with blood, like needles, razors, toothbrushes, and body piercing or tattoo equipment.

Possible Signs & Symptoms

  • Feeling super tired
  • Headaches
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (this is called jaundice)
  • Little appetite, nausea, throwing up
  • Generally feeling super sucky

Super important detail: to find out if a person has a form of hepatitis, a blood test is done. It’s true that some people with hepatitis don’t have it forever (like in Hep A and B), but many do have it for a lifetime (there is treatment for Hep C). PS- your sexual partners need testing & treatment too.

Check out this link on hepatitis: http://www.teenclinic.org/about/get-healthy/stis/hepatitis-a-b-c/