The term “hepatitis” is used to describe inflammation (swelling) of the liver. Hepatitis B & C are the most common types of viral hepatitis and over time, if left untreated, can lead to scarring (fibrosis) of the liver, cirrhosis or liver cancer.
It is estimated that approximately 0.9% of the Scottish population have been diagnosed hepatitis C positive and the number of hepatitis B infections are a growing cause for concern.
Hepatitis B is the most infectious blood borne virus – it is approximately 100 times more infectious than HIV. It can survive for up to 7 days outside the body and is present in high levels in blood. It is also present in varying amounts in other body fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. Unlike hepatitis C, there is a high risk of hepatitis B being transmitted via unprotected sexual activity. Hepatitis B cannot be cured, however, the majority of people infected as adults clear the virus naturally and there is treatment available to reduce symptoms and disease progression in those who don’t. A very effective vaccine is available that can provide lifelong immunity in most cases.
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Click here to find out how hepatitis B is transmitted
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Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that mainly affects the liver. It can cause fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver and, left untreated, can lead to liver failure, liver cancer and can be fatal. There is no vaccine to protect against hepatitis C, however, effective treatment is available that can cure the virus in some cases.
Hepatitis C is more common in Ayrshire than both hepatitis B and HIV.
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Click here to find out how hepatitis C is transmitted
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Click here for more info on hepatitis C treatment