Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
What is it?
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection affecting the liver, a vital organ of the body.
There are many ways to catch hepatitis C. It’s possible to catch it through having unprotected sex.
How do I catch it?
The most common way to catch hepatitis C is by sharing contaminated needles, spoons, and filters to inject drugs.
There are other rare causes as well, such as transmission from mother to child, or any surgical procedures abroad where sterilization of instruments is not optimal. It’s possible to catch hepatitis C by having unprotected sex with an infected person.
It is not caught by normal social contact, such as hugging, kissing, sharing kitchen utensils, or from a toilet seat.
Many people do not experience any symptoms when they first become infected with hepatitis C.
Some people may have vague flu-like symptoms including tiredness, loss of appetite, joint pains and nausea some weeks after being infected.
Some infected people remain well throughout their lives and develop no problems with their liver.
However, other people can develop longstanding (chronic) hepatitis C infection and have symptoms of liver damage, such as jaundice (yellow skin and eyes, and dark urine), ongoing tiredness, nausea, vomiting or unexplained weight loss. Without treatment this will eventually lead to liver failure, which is life-threatening.
Hepatitis C is diagnosed by a blood test. The results are usually available within two weeks.
Please speak to your GP or our clinic staff about testing.
If you are found to have hepatitis C you will be referred to a liver specialist. There are increasingly effective treatments available, and in many people the virus can be cleared, i.e. the infection cured. It is important to detect the virus before it does any damage to the liver.
Detailed information on STIs is available on the NHS website.
See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on sexually transmitted infections.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website also features a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs.