You've likely heard about hepatitis at some point, but like most people you probably assume that you're not at risk. Historically hepatitis has had negative connotations, however there are three different types of hepatitis which are transmitted by different methods, which means you can get hepatitis without knowing it or thinking you're at risk.
Hepatitis is a life-threatening condition that affects your liver, and so if you have it you can easily spread it to friends and family if you're not aware and taking necessary precautions. It can also be difficult to identify hepatitis until significant damage has been done, so if you're at risk of having contracted the virus the best thing you can do is to find out whether you have it or not.
The risk groups for each type of hepatitis are:
People most at risk for hepatitis A infection are:
People in the jobs that exposes them to faecal substance, such as healthcare workers, people who work with sewerage, and sex industry workers;
Household members or caregivers of infected people;
Play contacts within day care centres;
Those having close or sexual contacts with
men who have sex with men,
IV drug users;
Travellers to regions with intermediate or high rates of hepatitis A.
People most at risk for hepatitis B infection are:
Infants born to infected mothers;
Those having sexual contacts with
multiple sex partners,
a sexually transmitted infection,
or men who have sex with men;
IV drug users;
Travellers to areas with higher rates of hepatitis B;
Household members of infected people;
Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled people;
Participating in contact sports where there is high risk of bleeding injury.
You are at increased risk of hepatitis C if you are:
A tattoo or body piercing with unsterile equipment;
A blood transfusion before 1992;
People who have ever injected drugs, even once;
People who have lived in or received medical treatment in a country of high prevalence and low standard of medical equipment sterilisation;
People who have been in prison;
People born to a mother with the virus.
If you fit into one of those groups then the first step is to come in and see your GP, who will talk it through with you and can arrange a blood test to check for the virus.