For people living with HIV, raising awareness of hepatitis is particularly important. Due to the transmission routes for HIV and hepatitis B and C being similar, it is not uncommon for a person living with HIV to have a dual diagnosis.
In Australia, the rates of hepatitis B and C diagnosis amongst people living with HIV are much higher than the general population. Approximately 13% of people living with HIV have also been diagnosed with hepatitis C. And about 6% have been diagnosis with chronic hepatitis B.
People living with HIV are at greater risk of developing chronic, long term illness if they have been diagnosed with hepatitis C. And they’re less likely to recover from hepatitis B without treatment.
Hepatitis B is a virus that is most often transmitted through birth, blood-to-blood contact or unprotected sex.
You CANNOT contract Hepatitis B from hugging, kissing, sharing food/eating utensils, eating food made by someone living with hep B, coughing or sneezing, sharing bathrooms/toilets or insect bites (eg. mosquitoes)
For many people, there are no symptoms which is why testing is so important.
There is a vaccine and treatment for Hepatitis B but no cure.
Almost all older children and adults who are diagnosed with hepatitis B will recover completely and do not develop chronic infection.
For those who develop chronic hepatitis B, it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, liver disease or liver failure.
Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus, transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Whilst it can be transmitted through sexual contact, is not considered to be a STI.
It is most often transmitted through sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment, including spoons, tattooing or body piercing with unsterile equipment, medical procedures with unsterile equipment and sharing toothbrushes, razors or nail files.
You CANNOT contract Hepatitis B from hugging, kissing, sharing food/eating utensils, eating food made by someone living with hep C, coughing or sneezing, sharing bathrooms/toilets or insect bites (eg. mosquitoes)
Approximately 25% will develop acute hepatitis C and the body will clear the virus itself. For the remaining 75%, a chronic illness will develop.
There is treatment and a cure for Hepatitis C but no vaccine. Around 95% of people will be cured once they begin treatment.