Gay and bisexual men in Victoria will be eligible for free vaccines against hepatitis A from next week.

The state is in the midst of an outbreak, with 27 cases recently confirmed and more being investigated, News.com.au has reported.

Hepatitis A is an acute viral infection that affects the liver, causing symptoms including nausea and vomiting, fever, body aches and fatigue.

The symptoms last for weeks or months but generally cause no long-term liver damage.

Hepatitis A is transmitted by contact with even invisible traces of faeces, such as via sex or improperly washed food, and can also be transmitted by blood.

Gay and bisexual men in Victoria, as well as people who have injected drugs in the last 12 months, will be able to get the free vaccination between January 22 and December.

Some other states also offer free hepatitis A and other vaccinations for at-risk people including queer men—anyone interested in protecting themselves can ask their doctor or sexual health clinic.

As well as vaccination, washing hands especially before and after sex can help reduce the risk of hepatitis A.

A number of other hepatitis A outbreaks have occurred over the past year, including cases in Sydney that were thought to be linked to contaminated food.

While the virus is uncommon in Australia, several hundred cases are reported annually.

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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