July 2019: Public Health England (PHE) is urging gay and bisexual men in Brighton & Hove to take extra precautions against infection of hepatitis C (HCV) following reports of a recent increase in cases.
Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus which can be transmitted through sexual contact and the sharing of injecting equipment. An increase in use of three recreational drugs (crystal methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB/GBL) by gay and bisexual men in Brighton & Hove is thought to have contributed to an increase in new hepatitis C cases due to some of these substances being taken via injection.
Initial symptoms of hepatitis C are similar to flu and include mild fever, joint and muscle pain, feeling and being sick and diarrhoea. This may then be followed by other symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), itchy skin, passing very dark urine and pale stools.
Using clean needles & other drug using equipment is recommended as the most effective way to prevent the transmission of hepatitis C during ChemSex activities. We also suggest;
- Using a new condom for each sexual partner
- Using condoms for anal sex
- Using latex gloves for fisting
- Putting condoms on sex toys & replacing after each use
- Drugs increase the risk of bleeding because blood flow is increased
PrEP does not protect against Hepatitis or STIs
Click here for more safer sex advice
Click here to find out where to get a hepatitis test in Brighton and Hove
There is no vaccination against hepatitis C. Treatments are available but at present are funded for one treatment course only. Successful clearance of the virus does not provide immunity against re-infection.
Vaccinations are free and available to those who may be at risk of contracting Hepatitis A & B.