The outbreak of hepatitis A in Victoria is increasing, with more cases reported since the beginning of the year.

At least 58 cases have been confirmed, including one death, and more cases are being investigated, Outbreak News Today has reported.

Most cases are gay and bisexual men, with transmission often being through oral–anal sex (rimming).

Some cases have also been identified in people who inject drugs.

Hepatitis A can cause symptoms including pain, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice.

No cure exists for the virus, and symptoms usually last for weeks or months.

Victorians who are at risk of hepatitis A, including gay and bisexual men and people who have injected drugs, can access free vaccinations to protect them from the virus.

People in other states may also be eligible for free vaccinations—general practitioners, sexual health clinics and hepatitis organisations can provide more information.

In addition to vaccination, health officials advise handwashing to prevent spreading hepatitis A, especially before and after sex, food preparation, or injecting drugs.

People who inject drugs are advised to use alcohol swabs to clean injecting sites, and if possible avoid sharing or re-using any equipment.

The risk of hepatitis A transmission from oral–anal sex can be reduced by washing before and after sex, and using barriers.

Anyone suspected of having hepatitis A should avoid sex, preparing food, donating blood and sharing utensils, linen or towels until the infection is ruled out.

Hepatitis Australia and the National Hepatitis Info Line (1800 HEP ABC) have more information about viral hepatitis and how to prevent it.

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