Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Hepatitis symptoms, testing and treatment

2010 September 28

Hepatitis is a serious liver infection caused by a virus. It can be transmitted sexually or other ways.

Hepatitis symptoms, testing and treatment

Hepatitis is a serious liver infection caused by a virus. It can be transmitted sexually or other ways.

Make an appointment at any of our clinics in Greater Victoria to get tested for hepatitis, or to find out more.

There are different types of hepatitis that may be transmitted through sexual contact.

Hepatitis A (Hep A)

  • is highly infectious 
  • is spread by oral-fecal contamination, for example through unwashed hands during food preparation or through sexual contact such as anal intercourse or anal-oral sexual activity (“rimming”).
  • is preventable by vaccination. The vaccine is free for high risk populations in British Columbia, and is available at public health clinics, travel clinics, doctor’s offices and some treatment centres.

Hepatitis B (Hep B)

  •  can be very infectious
  • can cause both acute and chronic infection
  • is spread through body fluids including blood, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva and breast milk
  • can be transmitted by sexual contact; sharing of drug equipment; sharing personal hygiene items such as razors, toothbrushes, scissors; and by tattoos and piercing
  • is preventable through vaccination. In BC there are universal vaccination programs for grade 6 students (since 1991) and infants (since 2000). The vaccine is available at public health clinics, travel clinics, doctor’s offices and some treatment centres. Hepatitis B vaccinations are free for many in British Columbia.

Hepatitis C (Hep C)

  • can cause both acute and chronic infection
  • is usually spread by contact with infected blood.
  • The main mode of transmission is street drug use (sharing of drug equipment-needles, straws, etc.), sexual activity involving blood, tattooing and piercing, sharing sharps such as razors, scissors, tooth brushes, etc.
  • no vaccine is available to prevent Hep C