Toronto Diary
1 min

It’s World Hepatitis Day

And they say July doesn’t have any of the good holidays… Anyway, it’s World Hepatitis Day, and today’s as good a day as any to remind ourselves that hepatitis is still out there and still a pretty unpleasant disease to deal with. So, here’s a quick refresher on a few things you should know and how to protect yourself:

  • Hepatitis A is found in feces. I know, charming, right? Most people are exposed to it when food or drink is contaminated by someone who doesn’t wash their hands after they drop a deuce or through rimming. The good news is that hepatitis A does go away naturally after a few months and is usually not dangerous unless accompanied by hep C.
  • Hepatitis B is found in blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk. Like hepatitis A, your body can fight the disease on its own, but unfortunately, about five to 10 percent of cases are chronic, meaning the infected person will have hep B for life. In total, about one percent of people diagnosed will die from hep B.
  • Hep C is the motherfucker. It is found only in the blood, but it is far more contagious. Approximately 75 to 80 percent of people infected will never clear it from their bodies and can go on to infect others.
  • For the most part, hepatitis is non-symptomatic, which means most people can catch it and not even know. Thankfully, if you’re responsible and are screened for STDs on a monthly basis, you can at least know your status and act accordingly.
  • Hepatitis A and B vaccines are readily available and are pretty easy to get your hands on. That being said, there is still no vaccine for hepatitis C, and that’s the one you should be concerned about.
  • Avoiding hepatitis is relatively easy: get vaccinated, use protection during sex, wash your hands (and make sure the people preparing your food do as well) and avoid sharing needles, razors or toothbrushes.
Admittedly, that’s just a quick SparkNotes’ version of the facts, but, of course, you can ask your healthcare provider for more info.

 

(Image via Natalie Dee)

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