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Hepatitis B Information – Hepatitis Symptoms & Treatment

Dr. Sabrina Kendrick, Director of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, talks about Hepatitis B

  • What is Hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. It results from infection with the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B can be either “acute” or “chronic.”

    Acute hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis B virus. Acute infection can — but does not always — lead to chronic infection.

    Chronic hepatitis B virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the hepatitis B virus remains in a person’s body.

  • What are the statistics for Hepatitis B?

    In 2006, there were an estimated 46,000 new hepatitis B virus infections in the United States. However, the official number of reported hepatitis B cases is much lower. Many people don’t know they are infected or may not have symptoms and therefore never seek the attention of medical or public health officials.

  • How common is chronic hepatitis B in the United States?

    In the United States, an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million persons have chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

  • How is Hepatitis B transmitted?

    Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected. People can become infected with the virus during activities such as:

    • Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth)
    • Sex with an infected partner
    • Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
    • Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
    • Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
    • Exposure to blood from needlesticks or other sharp instruments.
  • What are the risk factors for transmission of Hepatitis B?

    Although anyone can get hepatitis B, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:

    • Have sex with an infected person
    • Have multiple sex partners
    • Have a sexually transmitted disease
    • Are men who have sexual contact with other men
    • Inject drugs or share needles, syringes, or other drug equipment
    • Live with a person who has chronic hepatitis B
    • Are infants born to infected mothers
    • Are exposed to blood on the job
    • Are hemodialysis patients
    • Travel to countries with moderate to high rates of hepatitis B
  • How do you prevent transmission of Hepatitis B?

    The best way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting the hepatitis B vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective and is usually given as 3-4 shots over a 6-month period.

  • What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?

    Symptoms of acute hepatitis B, if they appear, can include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal pain
    • Dark urine
    • Clay-colored bowel movements
    • Joint pain
    • Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or the eyes)
  • What is the test for Hepatitis B?

    There are many different blood tests available to diagnose hepatitis B. They can be ordered as an individual test or as a series of tests. getSTDtested provides the following test:

    Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) is a protein on the surface of the hepatitis B virus. It can be detected in the blood during acute or chronic hepatitis B virus infection. The body normally produces antibodies to HBsAg as part of the normal immune response to infection.

    A positive test means:

    A person has an acute or chronic hepatitis B virus infection and can pass the virus to others

    A negative test means:

    A person does not have the hepatitis B virus in his or her blood

  • What is the Window Period for Hepatitis B?

    On average, symptoms appear 90 days (or 3 months) after exposure, but they can appear any time between 6 weeks and 6 months after exposure.

  • Is there a vaccine or treatment for Hepatitis B?

    Yes, there is a vaccine.

    The hepatitis B vaccine series is a sequence of shots that stimulate a person’s natural immune system to protect against HBV. After the vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies that protect a person against the virus. An antibody is a substance found in the blood that is produced in response to a virus invading the body. These antibodies are then stored in the body and will fight off the infection if a person is exposed to the hepatitis B virus in the future.

  • Who should get vaccinated against hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for:

    • All infants, starting with the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth
    • All children & adolescents younger than 19 years of age old who have not been vaccinated
    • People whose sex partners have hepatitis B
    • Sexually active persons not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship
    • Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
    • Men who have sexual contact with other men
    • People who share needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
    • People with close household contact with someone infected with hepatitis B
    • Healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids on the job
    • People with end-stage renal disease, including predialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
    • Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
    • Travelers to regions with moderate or high rates of hepatitis B
    • People with chronic liver disease
    • People with HIV infection
    • Anyone who wishes to be protected from hepatitis B virus infection

    In order to reach individuals at risk for hepatitis B, vaccination is also recommended for anyone in or seeking treatment from the following:

    • Sexually transmitted disease treatment facilities
    • HIV testing and treatment facilities
    • Facilities providing drug-abuse treatment and prevention services
    • Healthcare settings targeting services to injection drug users
    • Healthcare settings targeting services to men who have sex with men
    • Chronic hemodialysis facilities and end-stage renal disease programs
    • Correctional facilities
    • Institutions & nonresidential day care facilities for the developmentally disabled

Gonorrhea Information – Symptoms of Gonorrhea & Testing/Treatment Options

Dr. Sabrina Kendrick, Director of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, talks about gonorrhea

    What is gonorrhea?

    Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus.

    What are the statistics?

    Gonorrhea is a very common infectious disease. CDC estimates that more than 700,000 persons in the U.S. get new gonorrheal infections each year. Only about half of these infections are reported to CDC. In 2006, 358,366 cases of gonorrhea were reported to CDC.

    How is gonorrhea transmitted?

    Gonorrhea is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired. Gonorrhea can also be spread from mother to baby during delivery.

    People who have had gonorrhea and received treatment may get infected again if they have sexual contact with a person infected with gonorrhea.

    Who is at risk for gonorrhea?

    Any sexually active person can be infected with gonorrhea. In the United States, the highest reported rates of infection are among sexually active teenagers, young adults, and African Americans.

    What are the symptoms for gonorrhea?

    Some men with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. However, some men have signs or symptoms that appear two to five days after infection; symptoms can take as long as 30 days to appear. Symptoms and signs include a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles.

    In women, the symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild, but most women who are infected have no symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they can be so non-specific as to be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. The initial symptoms and signs in women include a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection, regardless of the presence or severity of symptoms.

    Symptoms of rectal infection in both men and women may include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. Rectal infection also may cause no symptoms. Infections in the throat may cause a sore throat but usually causes no symptoms.

    What are the complications of untreated gonorrhea?

    Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men. In women, gonorrhea is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). About one million women each year in the United States develop PID. The symptoms may be quite mild or can be very severe and can include abdominal pain and fever. PID can lead to internal abscesses (pus-filled “pockets” that are hard to cure) and long-lasting, chronic pelvic pain. PID can damage the fallopian tubes enough to cause infertility or increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.

    In men, gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the ducts attached to the testicles that may lead to infertility if left untreated.

    Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life threatening. In addition, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV-infected people with gonorrhea can transmit HIV more easily to someone else than if they did not have gonorrhea.

    How do you test for gonorrhea?

    Several laboratory tests are available to diagnose gonorrhea. A doctor or nurse can obtain a sample for testing from the parts of the body likely to be infected (cervix, urethra, rectum, or throat) and send the sample to a laboratory for analysis.

    Gonorrhea that is present in the cervix or urethra can be diagnosed in a laboratory by testing a urine sample.

    A quick laboratory test for gonorrhea that can be done in some clinics or doctor’s offices is a Gram stain. A Gram stain of a sample from a urethra or a cervix allows the doctor to see the gonorrhea bacterium under a microscope. This test works better for men than for women.

    getSTDtested.com uses the urine based test for Gonorrhea.

    How do you treat gonorrhea?

    Several antibiotics can successfully cure gonorrhea in adolescents and adults. However, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing in many areas of the world, including the United States, and successful treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more difficult. Because many people with gonorrhea also have chlamydia, another STD, antibiotics for both infections are usually given together. Persons with gonorrhea should be tested for other STDs.

    It is important to take all of the medication prescribed to cure gonorrhea. Although medication will stop the infection, it will not repair any permanent damage done by the disease.

    People who have had gonorrhea and have been treated can get the disease again if they have sexual contact with persons infected with gonorrhea. If a person’s symptoms continue even after receiving treatment, he or she should return to a doctor to be reevaluated.

    How do you prevent transmission of gonorrhea?

    The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

    Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhea.

    Any genital symptoms such as discharge or burning during urination or unusual sore or rash should be a signal to stop having sex and to see a doctor immediately.

    If a person has been diagnosed and treated for gonorrhea, he or she should notify all recent sex partners so they can see a health care provider and be treated. This will reduce the risk that the sex partners will develop serious complications from gonorrhea and will also reduce the person’s risk of becoming re-infected. The person and all of his or her sex partners must avoid sex until they have completed their treatment for gonorrhea.

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