|Hepatitis B causes inflammation (swelling) of the liver which can cause permanent damage to the liver or cancer. A person can have the Hepatitis B virus without any symptoms and can pass it on without knowing.
Hepatitis B is included as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) because sex is one of the ways it is passed on, although it is not the only way. Hepatitis B is passed on by close contact with the blood and other body fluids (especially sexual fluids) of someone who has the virus.
These happen in 3 stages:
1. First Stage
These first symptoms may appear between 2 and 6 months after catching the virus- Flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, backache and leg pains Really bad feeling of tiredness, and not wanting to eat Pain in the joints
2. Jaundice Stage
Jaundice is the most obvious symptom of hepatitis B. The skin and whites of the eyes turn yellowish Urine turns to darkish brown; bowel motions become pale and smelly You may have a sore tummy and nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting (being sick) This jaundice stage may last between 2 and 8 weeks.
3. Recovery Stage Slowly the yellowish tint in your skin and eyes will go away. Urine and bowel motions will return to their normal colours. Most people recover. A few people continue to have the virus in the body (they are called "carriers") and can pass it on. Carriers can also get liver damage or cancer later on.
There is no special treatment for Hepatitis B. Your doctor will give you advice about rest, diet, medicines and alcohol. It may be several months before you are back to normal.
Your sexual partner needs to be seen and checked by your doctor - they may need to be vaccinated.
Condoms reduce the risk of catching STIs including AIDS and Hepatitis B. With acknowledgement to Department of Health, New Zealand GayNZ.com - 5th August 2001