Hepatitis C Hee Be Jee Bees
I attended a gay media advisory board about Hepatitis C and was shocked to discover how little I know about this desperately dangerous illness. In fact, when the assembled editors were asked to rate their knowledge of it on a scale of 1 to 10, no-one was prepared to give themselves more than a cautious five. We all expressed shock at some of the information. If this is the case for a group of editors who you would think would be in the centre of an information loop about things like this, what hope is there for anyone else to have the information they need to protect themselves?
The Gealth Protection Agency say 50,000 have been diagnosed with chronic Hep C, and they estimate that 9 out of 10 infected don't know they are. This puts them at serious risk of liver disease and places them perfectly to share the virus.
It's spread through things like sharing snorting tubes for drugs, sharing razors or toothbrushes with somneone who is carrying the infection, tattoing or peircing with unsterilized equipment, etc. It's not transmitted through casual contact, and although not believed to be hugelyt infectious sexually, it is considered more likely passed through anal sex, particulalry with multiple partners, or fisting - or when HIV is present.
It's not something to be hysterical about, but it is something to try and protect yourself from. It's a nasty, nasty infection, and the treatment is also rather unpleasant. I heartlly recommend that people don't share drug straws, always use condoms, and find out as much about it as possible. (check out www.hepctrust.org.uk).