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There are a range of bugs and viruses that you can catch during sex. Learn about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), how to prevent them, how to diagnose them and how they are treated.

Hepatitis B

What is it?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection which can cause inflammation of the liver.

How do you get it?

You can only get hepatitis B from someone who has hepatitis B — by condomless anal, vaginal or front-hole sex or from sharing injecting equipment, razor blades, toothbrushes or tattooing equipment. Hepatitis B is present in blood and other bodily fluids so it can be transmitted from any activity where it can enter the blood stream of another person.

What are the symptoms?

Some people don’t have symptoms when they get hepatitis B, which means you can have hepatitis B and not know about it. If you do get symptoms, they can appear up to six months after infection.

Common symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Liver pain
  • Dark urine (piss)
  • Pale shit
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Yellow skin and eyes — known as jaundice
Diagnosis and treatment

A doctor diagnoses hepatitis B by taking a blood sample for laboratory testing.

There is no direct treatment to cure hepatitis B, though the virus will usually clear naturally. Care involves managing the symptoms by staying rested, keeping hydrated, eating healthy and avoiding alcohol.

It can take several weeks for symptoms to go away and a full recovery usually occurs.

Around five per cent of people go on to develop chronic hepatitis B, which means the infection stays for longer. Chronic hepatitis B may be treated with antiviral medication.

How do you prevent it?

The most effective way to prevent hepatitis B is to be vaccinated against it. Vaccination involves three injections given over a period of six months.

You can also help prevent hepatitis B by using condoms, dams and gloves during sex, by not sharing injecting or tattooing equipment, toothbrushes or razors.

Going for regular sexual health tests will identify hepatitis B before it becomes a problem and getting vaccinated helps prevent it from spreading.