Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. The condition can be a short episode (acute) or a prolonged illness (chronic). The three most common viruses are hepatitis A, B and C.
Hepatitis A is spread by ingesting substances contaminated with the hepatitis A virus, including food and water, or using contaminated cutlery or crockery. Contamination is usually due to poor hygiene, especially unwashed hands after using the toilet.
Symptoms usually appear about two weeks after contact with the virus. After the initial phase, which may last from a few days to several weeks, the symptoms subside, but tiredness may continue for months.
Hepatitis A does not usually cause permanent liver damage and patients make a complete recovery after a few months.
Hepatitis B is a more serious condition. It can lead to chronic hepatitis, liver damage and cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and is a major cause of liver cancer.
Hepatitis B virus is spread through body fluids, such as blood, semen, saliva and vaginal secretions. The most common routes of infection are sexual contact with an infected person and contaminated needles used for intravenous drug abuse.
Hepatitis B has an incubation period of about two months and will often last for as long as six months before symptoms diminish.
Hepatitis C also spreads via body fluids. The most common routes of infection are sexual contact and using contaminated needles for intravenous drug abuse.
The effects of hepatitis C are initially less severe than those of the A and B. The symptoms usually appear between one and 10 weeks after exposure. Hepatitis C frequently leads to chronic hepatitis and liver damage.
Hepatitis may also be caused by:
We will send you your Acute Viral Hepatitis Screen finger-prick blood and test sample collection kit which contains everything you need to take your blood and sample in the comfort of your own home. If you are unsure about completing a finger-prick blood sample collection you will have the opportunity to select a clinic-based venous blood sample collection or choose to go our London laboratory during the checkout process.
Your Acute Viral Hepatitis Screen test includes 1st class postage and packaging for you to send your blood and sample directly to our laboratory for analysis. If you live in an area where you cannot rely on the post or you simply want to ensure that your sample arrives at the laboratory the following day, you may wish to send your blood and sample guaranteed next day delivery for extra reassurance.