Viral hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. There are five types of viral hepatitis but only hepatitis A and hepatitis B are frequently transmitted sexually. Hepatitis A resolves usually within 2 months without long term consequences.
By contrast to hepatitis A, infection with hepatitis B virus may not lead to an acute illness and many infected patients will not feel sick. Up to 10% of adults who contracted hepatitis B will have a chronic form of the infection which may lead to liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer later in life. Individuals with chronic hepatitis B can transmit the infection through sexual contact even without having symptoms. Hepatitis B may have an incubation period of a few months. Screening for hepatitis B is indicated 3 weeks after initial exposure.
Hepatitis B virus is transmitted mostly through unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal penetration or oral sex) or through exchange of biological fluids. Currently, vaccination is offered during the fourth year of school in Canada. Though vaccination in childhood should offer protection through adulthood, some people may have not been vaccinated. Moreover, even in the vaccinated population, some may not have lifelong immunity. Therefore, it is important to be screened after unprotected sexual contact or prior to a new relationship where protection is not used.
Hepatitis C virus is transmitted essentially through direct blood contact. Therefore the risk of transmission during sexual contact is very low.
For hepatitis B or C screening, vaccination for hepatitis B or for a more complete STD (STI) screening, make an appointment or contact the private medical clinic Créa-MeD at 514‑345‑1356 or email info@crea‑med.ca