Encouraging Others To Get Tested For Hepatitis C
While the odds of passing on the hepatitis C virus are low, you should still tell anyone at risk that you have hepatitis C. You should tell sexual partners, spouses, and family members. Your infection may be difficult to discuss, but anyone at potential risk must know. That way, they can get tested and treated if needed. Read more on why you should get tested for hepatitis C.
Paul Berk, MD, professor of medicine and emeritus chief of the division of liver disease, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City chairman of the board, American Liver Foundation.
Alan Franciscus, executive director, Hepatitis C Support Project and editor-in-chief of HCV Advocate, San Francisco.
Thelma King Thiel, chair and CEO, Hepatitis Foundation International.
David Thomas, MD, professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore.
Howard J. Worman, MD, associate professor of medicine and anatomy and cell biology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City.
The American Gastroenterological Association.
Can You Get Hepatitis From Saliva
People with chronic Hepatitis C are advised not to share toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers or other personal articles that may have potentially been in contact with their blood.
While there is very little emphasis on saliva as a vehicle of Hepatitis C transmission, under the right circumstances there is some evidence to the contrary:
How Does Hepatitis C Spread
Hepatitis C is spread only through exposure to an infected person’s blood.
High-risk activities include:
- Sharing drug use equipment. Anything involved with injecting street drugs, from syringes, to needles, to tourniquets, can have small amounts of blood on it that can transmit hepatitis C. Pipes and straws to smoke or snort drugs can have blood on them from cracked lips or nosebleeds. Get into a treatment program if you can. At the very least, don’t share needles or equipment with anyone else.
- Sharing tattoo or piercing tools. Nonsterile items and ink can spread contaminated blood.
- Blood transfusions in countries that donât screen blood for hepatitis C.
- Nonsterile medical equipment. Tools that arenât cleaned properly between use can spread the virus.
- Blood or cutting rituals. Sharing the tools or exchanging blood can transmit hepatitis C.
Medium-risk activities include:
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Can Hep C Be Transmitted Through Saliva
Hepatitis C is a transmittable liver disease that may cause a mild illness lasting just a few weeks, or a serious, chronic disease that affects the liver. It is caused by infection with the Hep C virus , which is primarily transmitted through the blood of an infected individual. However, are there other means of getting the virus? Can it be transmitted through saliva?
How The Hepatitis C Virus Spreads
In the past, hepatitis C was often spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. This changed in 1992 when widespread, more-advanced blood screening techniques became available.
The risk of contracting HCV in this manner is now less than one chance per 2 million units transfused, according to the CDC. But former transfusion practices are likely one reason why hepatitis C disproportionately affects baby boomers, who received blood transfusions before better screening was implemented. People born between 1945 and 1965 make up about three-quarters of the 3.5 million Americans with hepatitis C.
Today the most common way that hepatitis is spread is through the sharing of needles and other equipment for drug use. Though baby boomers are still more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than people of other age groups, the CDC reported in 2017 that new hepatitis C infections had almost tripled over the previous five years and, as a group, 20- to 29-year-olds have the highest number of new infections. This is seen as a result of the increased use of IV drugs connected to the opioid epidemic in the United States.
The CDC also notes that infections are rising among women of childbearing age. While the virus is not always transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby, it is possible: About 6 infants in 100 born to mothers with the virus are infected.
You can also be exposed to HCV through:
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Direct Exposure To Blood
Exposure to large amounts of contaminated blood increases the risk for hepatitis C transmission. If you get a cut and need help tending it, whoever helps you should first put on disposable gloves to prevent exposure in case he or she has a cut. You can also help prevent hepatitis C transmission by covering any cuts or sores with bandages until theyre healed and disposing of used bandages properly.
Uninfected people should take steps to avoid getting someone elses blood in their eyes, nose, and mouth. If an uninfected persons skin is exposed to contaminated blood, wash the area with soap and water immediately. If blood gets in the eyes, rinse them with running water right away and call a doctor to find out about further steps that should be taken.
When cleaning blood from surfaces, Dr. Lee recommends using a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water. Dried blood should also be handled with care because the virus can live for several days outside the body.
The CDC recommends that if youve ever tested positive for hepatitis C, you should abstain from donating blood, organs, or semen.
How Hcv Is Spread
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted primarily through blood to blood contact, meaning that a person can become infected with the virus should the blood of a person who carries the virus be introduced into another person’s bloodstream.
Therefore, as with hepatitis B, blood transfusions , tattooing and body piercing, occupational exposure, medical procedures, and intravenous drug use can all lead to possible exposure to the virus. Unlike hepatitis B, however, sexual contact and childbirth have both been shown to be an inefficient route of exposure to HCV.
The hepatitis G virus is thought to be transmitted in a similar way to HCV.
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Is Hepatitis C Sexually Transmitted
Can hepatitis C be spread through sexual contact?
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus . The disease can be passed from person to person.
As with many infections, HCV lives in blood and bodily fluids. You can contract hepatitis C by coming into direct contact with an infected persons blood. It can also be transmitted by contact with bodily fluids including saliva or semen of an infected person, but this is rare.
Researchers in found that 1 out of every 190,000 instances of heterosexual sexual contact led to HCV transmission. Participants in the study were in monogamous sexual relationships.
HCV may be more likely to spread through sexual contact if you:
- have multiple sexual partners
- participate in rough sex, which is more likely to result in broken skin or bleeding
- dont use barrier protection, such as condoms or dental dams
- dont use barrier protection properly
- have a sexually transmitted infection or HIV
Theres no evidence that HCV can be spread through oral sex. However, it may still be possible if blood is present from either the person giving or receiving oral sex.
For example, a slight risk may exist if any of the following are present:
- menstrual blood
- genital warts
- any other breaks in the skin in the involved areas
Though sexual transmission is rare overall, HCV may be more likely to spread through anal sex than oral sex. This is because rectal tissue is more likely to tear during intercourse.
How Do You Know If You Have Hepatitis B
Signs and symptoms can vary, in particular by the age of the individual. Many individuals may not show symptoms . When symptoms develop, they include fever, joint pain, abdominal pain, fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, clay-coloured bowel movements, or jaundice.
Most infections are asymptomatic or mild. Occasionally, people with serious cases of hepatitis B require hospitalization. A very small proportion of these patients develop a critical form of the disease called “fulminant” hepatitis B. This condition results from a sudden breakdown of liver function.
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What Is Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is an infectious liver disease. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus . Infections of hepatitis B occur only if the virus is able to enter the blood stream and reach the liver. Once in the liver, the virus reproduces and releases large numbers of new viruses into the bloodstream.
To combat the disease, the body has several defenses. White blood cells, which protect the body from infections, attack and destroy the infected liver cells. The body also produces antibodies which circulate in the blood to destroy the virus and protect against future infections of hepatitis B. During the infection and recovery process, the liver may not function normally causing illness that affects the entire body.
For reasons that are not completely understood, 10 percent of people who develop hepatitis B become carriers of the disease. Their blood remains infected for months, years, sometimes for life. Seventy percent of carriers develop chronic persistent hepatitis B. Most do not appear to be ill. The remaining 30 percent of carriers experience continuous liver disease. This condition often progresses to cirrhosis and then, after 30 to 40 years, possibly to liver cancer. At present, there is no way of curing carriers. The risk of becoming a chronic carrier is related inversely with a person’s age when infected. For example, the risk of an infant becoming a carrier is 90-95% whereas the risk of an adult becoming a carrier is 3-10%.
Risk Factors For Hepatitis C
Though the risk is believed to be low, you can contract hepatitis C by having unprotected sex with an HCV-infected person. This risk increases if you have multiple sex partners, have a sexually transmitted disease, or engage in rough sex or anal sex that causes bleeding. Having sex with an HCV-infected woman who is menstruating can also increase your risk, as the virus is passed through exposure to infected blood.
Aside from unsafe sexual activity, there are several other factors that increase your risk of getting hepatitis C, including if you:
- Use intravenous drugs now or have used them in the past
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992, when better hepatitis C testing became available
- Received a clotting factor concentrate, which helps blood clot properly, made before 1987, when more advanced manufacturing methods were developed
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Infectious Diseases From Mouth Sores
Certain infections causing ulcerations in the mouth can also be spread through kissing. These include cold sores and hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus, usually herpes simplex virus-1 . While related, this is different from herpes simplex virus-2 , which is more generally associated with genital herpes.
In contrast to infections spread through the saliva, HSV-1 is spread through open cold sores on the lips or near the mouth. Although the infection is contagious through all stages of a cold sore, the infection is most contagious when the sore is open and leaking fluid.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease, caused by the Coxsackievirus, is another infectious disease that is spread through open sores in the mouth. This is a type of enterovirus, which is a common infection that has multiple strains that we all often are exposed to. This particular infection is common in kids, especially those in daycare or preschool settings.
It spreads by breathing the air after the sick person coughs or sneezes, touching or close contact such as kissing or sharing utensils and cups, through touching a sick person’s feces such as when changing a diaper, or from touching the eyes, nose, or mouth after contact with surfaces that have been contaminated such as doorknobs or toys.
In contrast to cold sores and coxsackievirus blisters, canker sores have no infectious disease origin and cannot be spread through saliva or kissing.
Hepatitis C Screening Recommendations
According to the CDC, adults age 18 and above should get screened for hepatitis C at least once. The CDC also recommends testing during every pregnancy among pregnant women.
Easily check for hepatitis C from the convenience and privacy of home with the Everlywell at-home Hepatitis C Test.
Hepatitis C testing is especially important for men and women born between 1945â1965 because people in this age groupâthe baby boomer generationâface a particularly high risk of having hepatitis C. Itâs estimated that 3 out 4 Americans with hepatitis C are baby boomers.
Itâs not completely clear why baby boomers are much more likely to have hepatitis C, but experts have identified some possible factors. Compared to other generations, a higher percentage of people born between 1945â1965 may have tried injection drug use during early adulthood . Plus, blood used for transfusions wasnât routinely screened for hepatitis C before 1992, adding further risk of infection among baby boomers.
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Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor
People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.
People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.
How Hepatitis C Is Transmitted
Sharing needles and other equipment for drug use is the most common way of spreading the hepatitis C virus. But there are other ways and risk factors.
Hepatitis C is a type of hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus . When a person contracts hepatitis C, it can take 2 to 12 weeks from exposure until the onset of any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Between 20 and 30 percent of people infected with HCV develop symptoms of acute hepatitis C. But in many cases of acute hepatitis C, people with HCV have no symptoms. About three-quarters of people with HCV will develop complications, including a chronic HCV infection that can last a lifetime.
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What Is The Hepatitis C Virus
The hepatitis C virus was first identified in 1989. It is a linear, single-stranded, encapsulated RNA virus that consists of 9,500 nucleotides. The HCV belongs to the Flaviviridae family.According to the World Health Organization , about 71 million people worldwide are chronically ill with hepatitis C. This corresponds to one per cent of the worlds population. Hepatitis C is common all over the world, but the eastern Mediterranean region is the most strongly affected. Humans are the only known host of hepatitis C. So far, no effective vaccination against it has been developed.
What Laboratory Tests Are Available For Hepatitis B
Tests are available to detect the types of antigens used to identify the hepatitis B virus. The tests determine if the virus is present in the body tissue or blood. The amount of each type of antigen present indicates how advanced the disease is and how infective the individual has become.
Other tests are available to detect the body’s reaction to the viral infection or the body’s reaction to vaccination against the virus. These tests work by measuring the number of antibodies present in the blood.
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How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted
In most cases, hepatitis C is transmitted through injections with infected syringes and cannulas. Drug users who inject themselves are particularly at risk. Intra-nasal drug use or the joint usage of drug-related paraphernalia also poses a high risk of infection.There is virtually no risk of infection during diagnostic or surgical procedures, as these have a high level of preventive measures. Even though the virus can be found in body fluids such as saliva and sweat, an infection through these body fluids, as well as through sneezing, coughing and the intake of food, is highly unlikely.Sexual transmission of HCV is more likely, especially in certain groups and through certain sexual practices. In particular, HIV-positive people who have unprotected and injury-prone sexual intercourse face an increased risk of contracting hepatitis C. The pathogen enters the bloodstream through small injuries of the mucous membrane.Depending on the virus concentration in the blood, infection from the mother to the unborn child is also possible. The risk is greatest during childbirth itself, should the baby come into contact with its mothers blood.
Sharing Toothbrushes Scissors And Razors
There’s a potential risk that hepatitis C may be passed on through sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors and scissors, as they can become contaminated with infected blood.
Equipment used by hairdressers, such as scissors and clippers, can pose a risk if it has been contaminated with infected blood and not sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.
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