The Hepatitis A virus is transmitted through contaminated water and food or contact with faeces through poor hygiene or sexual contact. Hepatitis A occurs primarily in hot countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Southern and Eastern Europe.
Avoid any direct contact with human faeces during sexual contact through using condoms for anal sex and avoid oral contact with faeces without protection. Good personal and food hygiene and washing your hands regularly reduces the risk of infection. During trips to hot countries and those with low hygienic standards avoid raw foods, undercooked shellfish and drink only bottled water.
Symptoms appear between 2 – 6 weeks after infection. Some people may only have a mild illness. They may not know they are infected, although they can pass on the virus to others. A few people develop a serious illness and need to be looked after in hospital. The general symptoms - often mistakenly diagnosed as flu - such as tiredness, aches and pains, a fever and/or loss of appetite. There may also be nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, stomach ache and/or diarrhoea. These symptoms may last for a week or more. Then jaundice may develop. Jaundice is easily noticeable because the whites of the eyes go yellow, and in more serious cases the skin goes yellow, urine may turn dark and bowel motions become pale. If jaundice appears, you should immediately go to a doctor. As with most illnesses caused by viruses, there is no specific treatment although there is medication to alleviate the symptoms. Many people feel tired and need more rest than usual. Generally, people are encouraged to eat and drink as well as they are able. Light food may be easier to digest. Alcohol is strictly forbidden!
You can ask your family doctor or a health care centre. You can also get the vaccination for free and anonymously at a organization for sex workers.