How can hepatitis be prevented?
Hepatitis is one of the most widespread diseases but it is easy to prevent yourself from ever getting infected so long as you know what to do. In this article, I will tell you exactly how you can protect yourself.
Practise Safe Sex
Hepatitis B and C are 100 times more infectious than even HIV. They can be spread easily via the bloodstream so unsafe sex is a major risk factor for transmission of this disease. Unless you know your partner's current sexual health status then you should always use a condom.
Hepatitis A can even be contracted via some methods of oral sex. A vaccination (see below) can eliminate this risk.
Avoid Contaminated Food
Hepatitis A can be spread via faecal matter so only eat where good food hygiene practices are observed.
In some areas, it can also be acquired via seafood so make sure you know if the area you are travelling through could present a risk to you in this way. How does this occur anyway? It usually does if untreated sewage has entered the food chain e.g. via a river.
Do Not Share Needles
If you are a drug addict or have some other need to inject drugs into your bloodstream then you should never share needles with anyone else or you could acquire hepatitis.
Also, if you are going to get a tattoo done, make sure that your local tattoo parlour observes safe practices. Do not assume that all modern day tattooists do this because this is far from the case. Any food tattooist will not mind if you ask one thousand questions about their health considerations. If they do, then you cannot trust them.
The advice for tattoos also applies for piercings. However, piercing practices are generally much better than those for getting tattoos done. This is because piercing needles become blunt quickly after being exposed to air and being used and are almost always thrown out after a single use.
Currently, you can get vaccinated against both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Unfortunately, there is not yet any vaccine for Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis A vaccination usually involves two shots that are given 6 months apart. Hepatitis B requires 3 booster shots: sometimes they are given weeks apart and sometimes they are given months apart.
The WHO recommends that everyone gets a Hepatitis B vaccination. They are well tolerated and highly recommended, especially if you plan on travelling through or living in Asia.