Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver. In addition to causing liver damage, the virus is associated with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) particularly when the patient has a co-existing HIV infection. The virus can be transmitted in the same way as HIV. In Europe, about 2-5 in 100 people have Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver. In addition to causing liver damage, the virus is associated with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) particularly when the patient has a co-existing HIV infection. The virus can be transmitted in the same way as HIV. In Europe, about 2-5 in 100 people have Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
Human immunodeficiency virus is commonly known as HIV. Some people infected with the virus progress to the illness called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. HIV damages the immune system leaving infected individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections, diseases affecting multiple organ systems and cancers. AIDS can be fatal but treatments are now available for HIV infection that can slow the progression of disease and the development of AIDS. Treatments are most effective when started as early as possible after infection therefore regular testing and early detection of infection is a crucial factor in optimising future health. It is estimated that 59 million people are infected by HIV globally. In Europe, the incidence of HIV infection varies widely depending on the population but in low risk groups it is around 1 case in every 200 people. HIV infection can be transmitted from one individual to another through sexual contact or contaminated needles used for injections. The effects of the infection are rising most rapidly amongst heterosexual males due to late presentation.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through sexual contact. The infection progresses through three stages. In stage 1 (primary syphilis), the first sign of syphilis is a painless but highly infectious sore on the genitals or sometimes around the mouth. The sore lasts two to six weeks before disappearing. In stage 2 (secondary syphilis), symptoms include a skin rash, sore throat, tiredness, swollen glands, weight loss and joint pains; these symptoms disappear within a few weeks. After stage 2, there is a latent (hidden) phase with no symptoms, which can last for several years. After this, syphilis can progress to stage 3 (tertiary syphilis) which is the most dangerous stage and can cause serious damage to the nervous system, the heart and the brain, resulting in dementia. Syphilis in pregnant women can damage the unborn baby.
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