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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 C

What is it?

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

How do you get it?

The hepatitis C virus is present in blood and other bodily fluid. It can be transmitted from any activity where it can enter the blood stream of another person. There are several ways you can get hepatitis C:

  • From having sex someone who has hepatitis C — by condomless anal, vaginal or front-hole sex. The risk of getting hepatitis C increases with sexual activity that damages or injures the delicate lining of the anus, vagina or front-hole, such as fisting, prolonged sex sessions, rough sex or sharing sex toys
  • From sharing injecting equipment, razor blades, toothbrushes or tattooing equipment with someone who has hepatitis C
What are the symptoms?

Some people don’t have symptoms when they get hepatitis C, which means you can have hepatitis C and not know about it. There is no typical period of time for symptoms to show.

Common symptoms may include:

  • Mild flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine (piss)
  • Pale shit
  • Yellow skin and eyes — known as jaundice
Diagnosis and treatment

A doctor diagnoses hepatitis C by taking a blood sample for laboratory testing. It can take up to three months after infection to detect hepatitis C by a blood test.

Although around 25 to 30 per cent of people may clear the virus naturally within six months of infection, antiviral treatment medications are now available which can cure close to 100 per cent of chronic cases within 12 weeks.

How do you prevent it?

There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. The most effective way to prevent hepatitis C is to use condoms during anal, vaginal or front-hole sex; use gloves for fisting and other activities where blood may be present; wash hands and sex toys — especially in group sex settings, with new partners and between partners, and avoid sharing injecting or tattooing equipment, toothbrushes or razors.

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