Thu, May 04, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Reports of hepatitis A increasing; safe-sex practices urged

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei Department of Health on Monday said annual reported cases of hepatitis A in the city last year increased by 15 times the total number in 2014, and unprotected sex is a major contributor to the transmission of the disease.

Last year, 272 cases of hepatitis A were reported in Taipei, about 5.3 times the total number in 2015 (43) and 15 times of the number in 2014 (18), the department said, adding that the increase in the past two years was about 10 times higher than that of the whole nation.

“Analyzing the cases, about 40 percent had eaten contaminated or raw food, or drunk unfiltered water, while about 60 percent were diagnosed with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases [STDs] — mostly syphilis or gonorrhea,” Division for Disease Control and Prevention Director Chen Shao-ching (陳少卿) said. “Unprotected sex can be a major risk in contracting hepatitis A.”

Hepatitis A symptoms can include fever, extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, stomachache and vomiting, and jaundice. The symptoms tend to be more pronounced in adults than children. Some people can develop acute fulminating hepatitis.

“The hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective and a good preventive measure,” Chen said, adding that the city provides government-funded vaccinations to people who have had contact with hepatitis A patients or people with STDs.

The department also urged people to avoid eating raw food or drinking unfiltered water, to wash their hands with soap and water before meals and after using the toilet, and to use condoms during sexual contact.

People with a higher risk of exposure, such as people who do not use a condom during sex, use intravenous drugs, have chronic liver disease, or people who work in a restaurant, healthcare or childcare should be vaccinated, the department said.

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