Warning on hepatitis A

Public Health England (PHE) is urging gay and bisexual men to take extra precautions against infection with hepatitis A, as cases are increasingly being reported in the community. Those attending World Pride in Madrid (23 June to 3 July) are being encouraged to visit their genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic to request the hepatitis A vaccine.

Those not travelling to World Pride are being advised to ask about vaccination at their next sexual health check-up.

Hepatitis A is a highly infectious virus causing inflammation of the liver, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea and a flu-like illness. While it can be transmitted through food or water contaminated with faeces, the recent cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) are believed to have been spread through oral or anal sex, says PHE.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, says: ‘Hepatitis A among gay and bisexual men is significantly higher than usual, making it important they take extra care, especially if travelling to other countries.’

Those most at risk are MSM with multiple partners, while some cases have been linked to those visiting Spain and other European countries.

Cases are more prevalent in London. However, as people travel within the UK or further abroad this summer, it is feared more will be exposed to the virus.

 

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