Symptoms of viral hepatitis
Common symptoms in the early stages of a viral hepatitis infection (also known as the ‘acute’ phase) include a high temperature, fatigue, mild abdominal pain, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), nausea and vomiting. However, some people have no symptoms at all.
Patients with chronic (long term) HBV and HCV may not experience symptoms until their liver disease becomes severe, so it’s important to get tested if you think you might be at risk as there are highly effective treatments available.Find out more
Public knowledge about hepatitis is slowly improving but there is still widespread ignorance about who gets hepatitis and how it’s passed on.
You may want to discuss your concerns with a health professional or counsellor who is trained to help you cope with a diagnosis of hepatitis and any social difficulties that may come with it, such as:
Most insurance companies will ask applicants if they have been tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. A positive test result may mean a life insurance policy or a mortgage linked to a life policy could be refused or the premium raised. If this happens, it is worth talking to your doctor as many consultants are willing to write to a mortgage or insurance company stating your health and life expectancy.
This is often a difficult decision but you should consider that a positive result may affect your family and sexual partner(s) and whether these people should also think about testing. If you are HBsAg positive, your partner will need vaccinating if they are negative. Vaccination will completely protect them. With a new partner it is important to use barrier contraceptives (condoms) until they have been vaccinated.
You may want only certain people to know about your test and results. GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinics offer a confidential testing service, although in the case of a positive result your GP will become involved when you are referred for ongoing care. Any doctor who diagnoses acute viral hepatitis is legally required to report this information to Public Health England to help reduce the spread of infection.