What is Hepatitis?
We all know about the dangers of HIV and AIDS, unfortunately these are not the only incurable sexually transmitted infections. Chomas, today I want to talk to you about Hepatitis.
What is Hepatitis?
Firstly, Hepatitis is an infectious disease that causes major damage to your liver specifically, it could even potentially lead to liver cancer. Our livers are important to our bodies because they help remove and process toxins and keep us healthy, so when they get sick, we get really sick.
There are five types of Hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E. A is the most common and can be caught from contaminated food and water, this one is treatable and acts like a really bad flu for a few weeks. Hepatitis E is also contracted from contaminated water, but is very rare. B, C, and D, on the other hand are a different story.
Hepatitis B and C are both contracted through sexual contact or through blood contact (most commonly by drug users sharing needles). Hepatitis B is considered a serious sexually transmitted illness (STI) and while the virus can be treated, you stand a chance of not being cured completely, becoming what doctors refer to as a "chronic carrier"; this means that a small percentage of Hepatitis B carriers also stand a chance of liver failure. All the more reason to practice safe sex, chomas, you never know what could happen, and the younger you are the higher your chances of being diagnosed as a chronic carrier.
How do you know you have Hepatitis?
At first it seems like your typical flu where you feel tired and lose your appetite, other symptoms include stomach swelling and your skin becoming a slightly yellow colour (not like a what people refer to as a 'yellow bone' complexion, you'll know the difference). A doctor will need to take a blood sample to see if you are in fact sick and from there he can prescribe treatment.
For people who have been diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis, there is still hope and treatments can delay the progression of the disease. Did you know that the famous actress Pamela Anderson has been living with Hepatitis C for more than 10 years?! The Baywatch star contracted the disease by sharing a tattoo needle with her ex-husband Tommy Lee, and has been living with it ever since.
The sad lesson here is that you should never assume your partner is safe and healthy, always wear a condom during sex to protect yourself from contracting hepatitis and other STIs. Always be careful. If you have any more questions, why not send your question to Ask Choma?
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