Europe is currently experiencing an outbreak of hepatitis A affecting at least 1173 people in 15 countries since June 2016. Most of the cases are reported in men who have sex with men (MSM). This year a cluster of cases of hepatitis A among MSM was also reported for the first time in Malta.
Hepatitis A is an acute viral infection which causes inflammation of the liver. The virus, which is excreted in the faeces of an infected person, is transmitted faeco-orally most commonly after consuming contaminated food or water, and through poor hand washing or sex.
During sex, it is mainly spread through direct anal-oral contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person and contaminated with faeces. Hepatitis A can therefore be passed on when licking skin, condoms or sex toys contaminated with feaces and when licking skin near the anus (rimming), buttocks, groin or penis (giving oral sex after anal sex).
Between 2 to 6 weeks after getting infected, the following symptoms may develop:
Mild flu-like symptoms
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
Loss of apetite
Jaundice (the whites of the eyes turn yellow, the skin becomes yellow, the urine is darker and
the faeces are pale)
Someone with hepatitis A is most infectious from around two weeks before they start to develop symptoms until about a week afterwards. The infection is self limiting and symptoms are rarely life-threatening.
Some people may have no or very mild symptoms and therefore might not realise that they have Hepatitis A. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Once you clear the infection you are immune and cannot get hepatitis A again, but can get other types of hepatitis.
To avoid getting hepatitis A during sex, maintain good hygiene by:
• washing your hands before and after sexual intercourse (ideally buttocks, groin and penis too)
• use latex barrier/gloves for rimming, fingering and fisting
• change condoms between anal and oral sex
• avoid sharing sex toys
MSM are also advised to get vaccinated against Hepatitis A. This is especially important if:
a) You are at risk of severe outcomes from Hepatitis A infection, for example if you have chronic liver
disease, and if you inject drugs and share needles
b) You are a close contact of someone with Hepatitis A
c) You engage in risky sexual practice and have multiple partners.
d) Travelling to countries with unreliable hygienic standards or destination reporting outbreaks of
hepatitis A among MSM.
e) You are Planning to attend large international festivals and engage in casual sex.
One can get vaccine from Health Centres, Several GPs or the GU Clinic. (You may Contact the GU Clinic on +35625457494)
UPDATED: This is a list of Pharmacies that we are informed that have Hepatitis A Vaccine available
Distinction pharmacy, Paola
JV pharmacy, Swieqi
St Bartholomew pharmacy, B'kara
St Monica pharmacy, Paola
Cost for HEP A vaccine is approx 50 euro
*Just in case the pharmacies run out of Adult vaccines one can take two children vaccines to be equivalent to the adult dose.
*A combined hepatitis A and B vaccine is available. the hepatitis A vaccine is administered in two doses 6 months apart, While the combined hepatitis A and B vaccine is in 3 doses- first dose, followed by a second after one months then 6 months later the final dose is given.