Hepatitis A

What is it?

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

How do you get it?

Hepatitis A can be passed on through sexual activity that involves the bum. It can also be passed on by sharing injecting equipment.

Hepatitis A is also frequently passed on through everyday activities—mostly by using eating and drinking utensils previously handled by someone with hepatitis A, sharing cigarettes, a joint or bong, or by eating infected shellfish.

People are infectious for around three weeks, starting two weeks before they develop symptoms to about a week afterwards.

What are the signs?

Some people don’t have symptoms. But if there are symptoms, they can include:

  • fever
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice),
  • extreme or constant tiredness
  • dark urine (pee) and pale coloured faeces (shit)

If someone does have symptoms, it can take between two and seven weeks to appear.

Tests for Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is diagnosed with a blood test. Once you have had hepatitis A, antibodies will be detected in your blood. Most people will become immune to hepatitis A once they have had it, meaning that it is unlikely that they will get it again.

Treatment for Hepatitis A

There is no treatment for hepatitis A but the infection will usually clear itself from your body within a month. On rare occasions people can be sick for several months.

Bed-rest and drinking plenty of fluids are recommended. In severe cases people will need to go to hospital.

Preventing Hepatitis A

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. It is free to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in some states and territories. Two doses of the vaccine are required. The second dose is given six to 12 months after the first injection. (There is also a hepatitis A and B combination vaccination available. Three doses of the vaccine are required; the second dose after one month, and the third dose, six months after the first vaccination.)

Good hygienic practice like washing your hands after using the toilet and before and after sex, are also helpful.

List of STIs

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge and pay respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work.