Hepatitis A: What it is, symptoms, transmission and vaccination

13 Março 2024

There has been a new outbreak of hepatitis A in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region, mostly in men aged between 20 and 49, with sexual transmission between men who have sex with men.

The Hepatitis A virus is transmitted by ingesting contaminated water or food, as well as sexually. A vaccine to protect against this infection is available on prescription and can be bought from a pharmacy.

In the context of the outbreak identified, the GAT Grupo de Ativistas em Tratamentos is implementing a series of responses to control the hepatitis A outbreak, especially in the GAT Checkpoint LX, GAT Intendente, GAT Almada and GAT Setúbal services, to clarify and promote vaccination against the hepatitis A virus (HAV).


VACCINATION AGAINST THE HEPATITIS A VIRUS IS A PRELIMINARY TO SAFER SEX

DO I NEED TO GET VACCINATED?
GAT encourages you to follow this decision tree so that interested people can check the relevance of vaccination against the hepatitis A virus. Find out if you are already vaccinated on the SNS24, Meu SUS Digital apps or by looking in your vaccination booklet for records of HAV, Havrix, Vaqta or Twinrix vaccination. Anyone who is vaccinated or has had hepatitis A in the past is protected.

HOW DO I GET A PRESCRIPTION FOR THE VACCINE?
Fill in this form and you will be contacted by GAT medical and nursing professionals.

HOW DO I GET THE VACCINE?
After receiving the prescription, the vaccine can be bought at the pharmacy. The vaccine can cost between €15-€21.

WHERE TO GET THE VACCINE?
After purchasing the vaccine, it can be done at any GAT nursing service free of charge. Contact one of the GAT Checkpoint LXGAT IntendenteGAT Almada and GAT Setúbal services that is closest to you to make an appointment with a nurse.

THE VACCINE IS OUT OF STOCK. WHAT TO DO?
INFARMED is responsible for guaranteeing access to essential medicines. Once you have the prescription to buy the vaccine and if you can't because the vaccine is out of stock at the pharmacy, inform INFARMED.

  1. Go to https://extranet.infarmed.pt/GDM-fo/
  2. Select the municipality of the pharmacy under "Location"
  3. Select the answer "Citizen" in "Characterization of the report"
  4. Write "Hepatitis A vaccine" under "Active substance/IDC"
  5. Write "Havrix" or "Vaqta" depending on the brand information of the hepatitis vaccine that would be missing in the pharmacy
  6. Click on "Search"
  7. Select one of the vaccines listed by clicking on the + sign
  8. Click on submit


ABOUT THE HEPATITIS A VIRUS

WHAT IS HEPATITIS A?
Hepatitis A is an infection caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). The virus causes inflammation of the liver (hepatitis).

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Most adults have symptoms, which start between 2 and 7 weeks after infection and last for up to 2 months or more. The most common symptoms are fever, malaise, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing eyes and skin, whitish stools, dark urine, headaches and itching. Many adults may require hospitalization to relieve symptoms.

In the event of symptoms, STI appointments at GAT can offer an analysis to determine whether it is hepatitis A, B or C, advise on self-care and medication to relieve symptoms. There may be other causes of hepatitis that we can't diagnose at STI appointments. Call SNS24 808 24 24 24 to access a full medical assessment on the SNS.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
The Hepatitis A Virus is transmitted when there is oral contact with contaminated feces:

  • By swallowing water contaminated with fecal matter or eating raw food prepared by people with the infection;
  • When practicing oral sex after anal sex (ass-to-mouth), bringing the hand to the mouth after penetration with a finger (fingering), hand/fist (fisting) or removing the condom or using a sex toy used in anal sex;
  • When practicing oro-anal/ anilingus/ licking/ rosebud.

HAV can survive outside the body for months. People stop transmitting the virus 2 weeks after the infection begins.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
The diagnosis is made through blood tests. Two types of HAV antibodies are tested for, which determine whether or not the person has immunity (either through vaccination or having had the infection in the past) and whether they are currently infected.

HOW IS IT TREATED?
Almost all people with HAV infection resolve the infection without treatment, and without lasting damage to the liver. When treatment is necessary, drugs are used to relieve symptoms. Once the infection has resolved, people are protected against the infection for the rest of their lives - natural immunity.

HOW IS IT PREVENTED?
Prevention is possible by getting two doses of HAV vaccine, and protection lasts a lifetime.

In the event of recent exposure and not having the vaccine, it is necessary to take a dose of immunoglobulin (vaccine) within 2 weeks of exposure.

To prevent transmission through contaminated drinks or food: drink water from the Portuguese public water supply, wash your hands after going to the toilet and before preparing any food.

To prevent sexual transmission: wash the genital area, perianal area and hands before and after sexual intercourse.

 

This article will be constantly updated.
Last updated: 20/03/2024 5:15pm