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What is hepatitis C and how do you get it?Hepatitis C is a serious viral infection that affects the liver. It is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact including unsterile injecting drug use and unsterile body art procedures (e.g. backyard tattooing and body piercing). There is about a 5 per cent that hepatitus C can be transmitted to a baby during childbirth. Although most infected people have no symptoms, they can still pass on hepatitis C.
Am I safe if I only have oral or anal sex?It is very unlikely you would get hepatitus C through oral sex. It can be passed during anal sex, particularly if other STIs are present.
What happens if I'm infected?You may have no symptoms at all. On the other hand, you could have flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea. Your skin or eyes could look yellow. Approximately one quarter of people exposed to hepatitus C resolve (clear) the infection without treatment. The remainder develop a 'chronic' (ongoing) infection but can now be easily cured in 95 per cent of cases. If left untreated people with chronic hepatitus C infection can develop serious liver damage, cancer and death. If you also have hepatitus B and/or HIV, your liver disease may get worse faster.
How do you treat hepatitis C?Hepatitis C can be cured with medications called direct acting antivirals (DAAs). These medicines cure 95 per cent of people treated and generally have few side-effects. They are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and most people need to take one to three tablets daily for a period of 8 - 12 weeks.
For more information refer to Hepatitis Australia
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