Gay and bisexual men are being urged to raise their awareness of hepatitis today for World Hepatitis Day.

Hepatitis A, B and C are viruses which cause inflammation of the liver. They are separate viruses and can be picked up and passed on in different ways, including through unsafe sex and drug-taking.

Hepatitis C is seen as the most harmful as there is no vaccine and those with the disease remain infectious to others. It can go undiagnosed for many years as it often causes no obvious symptoms but it can cause serious damage such as liver cancer or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).

It is thought that one in 12 people worldwide are infected with hepatitis B or C.

According to the Hepatitis C Trust, most of the 600,000 to 800,000 people living with hepatitis B or C were unaware of the disease before testing positive.

Marc Thompson, deputy head of health promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust said: “Hepatitis A and B are easily avoided through free vaccinations offered to all gay and bisexual men at sexual health clinics but many men haven’t taken this up.

“It’s important that men know the facts about all the different types of Hepatitis and also how to reduce their risk. Check out the website and learn your hepatitis ABCs.”

For more information, visit http://www.hepinfo.org/