The Terrence Higgins Trust is one of many gay charities who continue to promote good sexual health. They have an excellent guide to staying healthy on their website. In the UK there have increases in the diagnoses of hepatitis B and C, and calls from many gay men for clarity on how hepatitis C is transmitted.

The Terrence Higgins Trust told OutUK: "Hepatitis A and B are easily avoided through free vaccinations offered to all gay and bisexual men at sexual health clinics. However we know from research that only 50% of gay men have completed a course of vaccinations against hepatitis B.

The three types of hepatitis can vary in severity, but each of them can make you unwell – sometimes seriously – for weeks or longer. What’s worse is that all three can potentially cause serious complications such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and other liver diseases. These complications can ultimately be fatal.

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B can be easily prevented through vaccinations, which are available free of charge from sexual health centres. Currently there is no vaccination against Hepatitis C, but you can take precautions to prevent it from being passed on."

Autoimmune Hepatitis A  &  Havrix Junior Mondose (Hepatitis_A) Vaccine
Photos: Nephron  &  Whispyhistory
Both pictures: CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver infection that's spread by a virus in poo.

Hepatitis A is uncommon in the UK but you can get it through sex, including oral-anal sex ("rimming") and giving oral sex after anal sex. MSM with multiple partners are particularly at risk. You can also get it through contaminated food and drink.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can appear up to 8 weeks after sex and include tiredness and feeling sick (nausea).

Hepatitis A is not usually life-threatening and most people make a full recovery within a couple of months.

MSM can avoid getting hepatitis A by:

  • washing hands after sex (bottom, groin and penis too by taking a shower, if possible)
  • changing condoms between anal and oral sex
  • using a barrier (such as a condom cut into a square) for rimming
  • using latex or non-latex gloves for fingering or fisting
  • not sharing sex toys
  • asking about the hepatitis A vaccine at a sexual health clinic or GUM clinic

If you think you might have hepatitis A, or have any questions, visit a sexual health clinic or GUM clinic. The hepatitis A vaccine is available for people at higher risk, including MSM with multiple partners.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. It does not usually cause obvious symptoms and may pass in a few months without treatment. However in some cases the infection can persist and cause serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. MSM are at risk of hepatitis B but they can be protected by the hepatitis B vaccination.

Vaccination for MSM is available from sexual health clinics, GUM clinics, or from GPs.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. It often does not cause any obvious symptoms at first, but it can lead to serious liver disease if left untreated.

It is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person. Men who are concerned they are at risk should consult their doctor, sexual health clinic or GUM clinic.

Hepatitis C can be treated and is curable in many cases.

THT want to encourage all gay men to get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, and find out more about the condition by visiting


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