Ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A in Berlin among gay men
What is it all about?
Since mid-November 2016, hepatitis A cases are reported increasingly in Berlin. Up to now around 100 people are infected, among them 90% men of whom the majority states to be gay. The outbreak is still ongoing and more cases are expected.
What is hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease. A specific symptom of the disease is jaundice (yellow discolouration of the skin and of the whites of the eyes) and besides, several unspecific symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Many patients need to receive hospital treatment. There is no specific treatment against hepatitis a but the symptoms can be treated.
How do I get infected?
The hepatitis A virus is transmitted primarily by the faecal-oral route. Persons not (yet) showing any signs or symptoms can transmit the virus. Sexual behavior can significantly increase risk of infection, particularly oral-anal practices.
Risks for hepatitis A briefly:
- Rimming/ butt licking
- Contact with used condoms and dildos
- Shared pots of lube
How can I protect myself?
Vaccination against hepatitis A is safe and effective, and the only means of protection. Protective immunity is usually expected to occur around two weeks following the first vaccination dose.
Hepatitis-A vaccinations are covered by health insurance if you indicate to have changing sex partners. Just consult your general practitioner and ask about the vaccinations.
What else can I do?
Please inform your gay friends. In case you had contact to potentially infected persons please seek consult your general practitioner.
What if I feel sick?
If you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms, consult your general practitioner and abstain from sexual intercourse until an infection can be ruled out.
During anal sexual practices, condoms don´t offer protection in terms of hepatis A, since handling of condoms can still allow for faecal traces to be ingested.
In friendly cooperation with German AIDS Service Organizations – deutschen Aidshilfe DAH – ( https://en.aidshilfe.de/hepatitis-0 ).