Hepatitis Screening Tests
Hepatitis is a disease which affects the liver, the body’s second largest organ. The liver plays a crucial role in the body’s digestive processes, and also in storing vitamins and minerals. Our sexual health clinic offers testing possibilities for two types of hepatitis - hepatitis B and C.
Hepatitis B virus can be transmitted from an infected person through blood and bodily fluids such as saliva, semen and vaginal secretions. You can contract hepatitis B virus during unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex or by sharing needles to inject drugs.
Patients infected with hepatitis B may remain asymptomatic for the first 1 to 6 months from being infected. After the incubation period hepatitis B develops into acute phase. Acute phase symptoms are feeling sick, being sick, lack of appetite, flu-like symptoms and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).
In waste majority of cases the human immune system is able to clear the infection from the body within 3 to 6 months and the patient remains immune to the virus for the rest of their life.
In 1 in 10 patients, hepatitis B will develop into chronic phase. Even in the chronic phase hepatitis B can remain asymptomatic and an infected person can spread the virus without knowing it. In other cases patients can develop persistent liver inflammation, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
You can get tested for hepatitis B with simple blood test:
Hepatitis B surface antigen: £75.00
Hepatitis B antibodies: £85.00
Hepatitis B vaccine - 3 vaccines £50.00 each
There are over 210,000 people chronically infected with hepatitis C in the UK. The disease is transmitted through contact with contaminated blood. Unsterilized needles, for example, for injecting drugs are one of the main ways of contracting hepatitis C. There is a small risk of contracting hepatitis C through unprotected sex, sharing toothbrushes, razors and even banknotes for inhaling recreational drugs.
Acute phase of hepatitis C develops 7 - 8 weeks from the exposure to the virus. The symptoms of acute phase are usually mild and can include feeling sick, vomiting and feeling generally unwell. In some cases the body will clear itself from the virus in 2 to 6 months from contracting the virus. In the rest of the cases chronic hepatitis C is developed.
The chronic phase may have no or mild symptoms. Even with no symptoms, hepatitis C can cause serious damage to your liver resulting to cirrhosis or even liver cancer.
Treatment is available, but carries significant side effects and is successful in half of those infected. The sooner you are tested the better the prognosis. If you are concerned about being exposed to hepatitis C do not delay your test.
Hepatitis C antibodies: £75
Multiplex testing for HIV, hepatitis B and C: £265