Tuesday, May 19, 2009

World Hepatitis Day - Why the Gay/Bi Community Must Take Action!

Today is World Hepatitis Day and we must be aware of the alarming statistic that one in twelve people have chronic hepatitis. Many of those infected are unaware due to a lack of symptoms, and many others don't know about easy steps to take to protect themselves.

Hepatitis is of major concern to the gay/bisexual community, partners can be infected through anal, vaginal and oral sex, as well as through rimming, fingering, and sharing sex toys.

The hepatitis B virus is spread through direct contact with infected blood as well as most major body fluids, including blood, semen, sweat, tears and breast milk. The hepatitis C virus is spread through direct contact with infected blood. Very rarely it may be passed on through other body fluids.

The most common routes of infection are:

* Blood transfusions and receiving blood products before screening was introduced
* Medical or dental interventions without adequate sterilisation of equipment
* Mother to infant during childbirth
* Sharing equipment for injecting drugs
* Sharing straws, notes etc. for snorting cocaine
* Sharing razors, toothbrushes or other household articles
* Tattooing and body piercing if done using unsterilised equipment

Tips for protection:
Make sure to take precautions by getting vaccinated, using condoms, and dental dams, washing your hands after the bathroom and before you eat, and avoiding sharing sex toys.

It's easy to get tested, and to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of the disease.

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