Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. It’s 100 times more infectious than HIV and it is basically transmitted through the saliva, blood, sperm, and vaginal secretions, consequently during intercourse.
Most people recover from it, but there are a few persons who become chronic carriers with increased risk of serious problems later, such as permanent liver disease or cancer of the liver.
HOW DOES HEPATITIS B MANIFEST?
The symptoms include:
– fever accompanied by severe fatigue
– poor appetite
– nausea and vomiting
– general malaise
– jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), which can be more or less obvious
– dark, tea-colored urine
– a light-colored stools
Some of these symptoms may appear within 2 to 6 weeks after contact.
Even without manifested symptoms, the infected person can pass the virus to others. Moreover, chronic carriers carry the virus for the rest of their lives and unknowingly and unwillingly pass it to their lovers.
HOW DO WE GET TESTED?
There is no characteristic treatment, but still rest is a must. You may prevent being infected if you get vaccine, but if you’ve already had hepatitis B, you don’t need to be vaccinated. However, this vaccine is recommended to people more exposed to hepatitis B, such as gay people, medical personnel, and so on.
Routine testing is not usually indicated unless the patient is symptomatic from jaundice or has had recent exposure to someone with this virus. 90% to 95% of people who have hepatitis B will fully recover.
HOW DO WE GET TREATED?
For acute hepatitis B, treatment includes simply rest and diet. For chronic hepatitis there are some new treatments, including interferon. If your lover or a member of your family is found to have hepatitis B, you should consult your doctor or healthcare provider and get immunized, which may imply getting hepatitis B immune globulin and hepatitis B vaccination.
HOW DO WE PREVENT HEPATITIS B?
Just as in the case of AIDS, the hepatitis B virus is also spread through contact with infected blood or body fluids, as mentioned in the first part of this article. One can get hepatitis B from vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.
It also can be passed from an infected mother to her baby during delivery. To minimize the risk of contracting the hepatitis B virus, do not share needles or syringes, or instruments used in ear-piercing, tattooing, or hair removal, as well as toothbrushes or razors.
In the case of sexual relationships, one should use condoms as they will put the risk of infection on a somewhat smaller scale.
In the case of an infected person, one should avoid intercourse and other intimate contact, see the doctor and abstain until he says it is safe.
The “good” news is that hepatitis B is the only sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be prevented by vaccination.