What Do You Do If You Become Ill
Talk to your health care provider about getting tested if you think you:
- are at risk
- may have hepatitis C
If you have hepatitis C, tell those who may have been exposed to your blood or bodily fluids. They should get tested and be treated if necessary. Bodily fluids, like semen and vaginal fluid, are a concern because they could be carrying small amounts of infected blood.
Some adults with hepatitis C will recover from the disease on their own within 6 months. Until your health care provider confirms your recovery status, you are still contagious and can spread the disease.
After recovery, you are no longer contagious because you will not have the disease anymore. But you can get hepatitis C again.
Unfortunately, most adults with hepatitis C:
- cannot recover on their own
- develop a more serious form of the disease if they are sick for longer than 6 months
General Tips For Prevention
Refrain from engaging in IV drug use and be cautious with all procedures that involve needles.
For example, you shouldnt share needles used for tattooing, piercing, or acupuncture. The equipment should always be carefully sterilized for safety. If youre undergoing any of these procedures in another country, always make sure the equipment is sterilized.
Sterile equipment should also be used in a medical or dental setting.
How Is Hep C Passed On
You can contract Hep C if the blood of someone who has already contracted Hep C enters your body.
Hep C is spread by:
- Sharing needles or straws during drug use
- Inadequate sterilization of medical equipment
- Transfusions with unscreened blood and blood products
- Unprotected sex with a Hep C carrier
- Mother to baby during pregnancy or birth
Hep C is not spread through breast milk, food, water, or casual contact such as hugging, kissing, or sharing food or drinks with a person who has Hep C.
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Poor Infection Control For Tattooing And Piercing
The notes that HCV may be transmitted by receiving tattoos or piercings from unregulated settings with poor infection control standards.
Commercially licensed tattooing and piercing businesses are generally thought to be safe.
More informal settings may not have adequate safeguards to help avoid the spread of infections. Receiving a tattoo or piercing in settings such as in a prison or in a home with friends carries a of HCV transmission
Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can be transmitted through sexual activity. Unvaccinated adults who have multiple sex partners, along with sex partners of people with chronic hepatitis B infection, are at increased risk for transmission. Injection-drug use and sexual contact are other common modes of hepatitis B transmission in the United States.
Among adults seeking treatment in STD clinics, as many as 10%40% have evidence of past or current hepatitis B virus infection. Many of these infections could have been prevented through universal vaccination during delivery of STD prevention or treatment services. Offering vaccination to all adults as part of routine prevention services in STD treatment facilities has been demonstrated to increase vaccination coverage among adults at risk for hepatitis B infection, as the behavioral risk factors for STDs and hepatitis B are similar.
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Tips For Preventing Transmission Through Sex
If youre sexually active with a person who has hepatitis C, there are ways that you can prevent contracting the virus. Likewise, if you have the virus, you can avoid infecting others.
A few steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission include:
- using a condom during every sexual contact, including oral sex
- learning to use all barrier devices correctly to prevent ripping or tearing during intercourse
- resisting engaging in sexual contact when either partner has an open cut or wound in their genitals
- being tested for STIs and asking sexual partners to be tested too
- practicing sexual monogamy
- using extra precautions if youre HIV-positive, as your chance of contracting HCV is much higher if you have HIV
If you have hepatitis C, you should be honest with all sexual partners about your status. This ensures that youre both taking the proper precautions to prevent transmission.
Why Getting Tested Is Important
A blood test is one of the only ways to confirm a diagnosis of hepatitis C. Additionally, hepatitis C often has no visible symptoms for many years.
Because of this, its important to be tested if you believe youve been exposed to the virus. Getting a timely diagnosis can help ensure you receive treatment before permanent liver damage occurs.
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Recommendations For Service Providers
Integrate hepatitis C education into existing sexual health and HIV services for gbMSM:
- Know hepatitis C risk factors. Educate gbMSM about the sexual transmission of hepatitis C. Encourage gbMSM having sex that could lead to hepatitis C to:
- use a new condom for each partner, including on sex toys
- use a new glove for each partner when fisting
- use individual lube containers and regularly apply lube
Integrate hepatitis C testing services into existing sexual health and HIV services:
Integrate sexual health and harm reduction services and programs to support gbMSM:
Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis A
Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur from any sexual activity with an infected person and is not limited to fecal-oral contact. People who are sexually active are considered at risk for hepatitis A if they are MSM, live with or are having sex with an infected person, or inject drugs. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing hepatitis A transmission among people at risk for infection. CDC has published recommendations for prevention of hepatitis A that identify all groups recommended for vaccination, including hepatitis A vaccination for MSM.
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Safe Sex And Sexually Transmitted Diseases
All sexually active people should consider safe sex because of the risk of contracting a sexually transmissible infection. STIs include conditions such as genital herpes, HIV, hepatitis B, gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, crabs and genital warts.
If you have any condition that involves scratching, sores or blisters the possibility of blood-to-blood contact and transmission of STIs is increased.
Needlestick Injuries In Healthcare Settings
Nurses, physicians, and all healthcare professionals who routinely use needles while providing medical care are at risk for needlestick injuries. In fact, it is estimated that more than 600,000 needlestick injuries happen each year, with nurses being at highest risk. An average of about 2 percent of needlestick injuries where there has been exposure to the virus will result in acute hepatitis C.
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Men Who Have Sex With Men
In a nutshell, there is an increased risk of sexual transmission for men who have sex with men .
It is estimated that up to 5 per cent of gay men and men who have sex with other men have hep C, compared with 1 per cent of the general population. Around 13 per cent of people with HIV in Australia also have hep C.
Among men who have sex with men, the risk of hep C being transmitted is higher if one or more partners has HIV, or if the sex involves blood-to-blood contact, of if they have other STIs, or if recreational drugs are used.
To reduce the risks:
- use condoms and lots of lube for anal sex
- wear gloves and use lots of lube for fisting
- use condoms on toys and change them between partners, or wash toys with hot soapy water and dry them between partners
- if affected by alcohol or recreational drugs, your judgement around risks will be impaired and youll have decreased inhibitions so take special care to avoid blood-to-blood contact.
Some men choose not to use condoms when having sex with other men who believe they have the same HIV status. This is called sero-sorting and can further increase peoples risk of contracting hep C.
For more information about anything in this factsheet, phone the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 990.
What Is Hepatitis C
Your liver. Its an organ in your gut. It processes nutrients, filters toxins, and helps you fight diseases. You probably dont think about it much! But its always there, quietly working away and you want it to be working properly. Why are we talking about your liver? Because thats the organ affected by Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is an infection that causes inflammation of the liver. Hep C can be a mild illness that only lasts a few weeks or it can be a serious, lifelong condition. But heres the good news! Hep C is definitely curable, with treatments offering a greater than 95% cure rate.
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How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted
The way the virus does spread is through contact with the blood of someone who is infected. Most commonly, this occurs through one of the following methods.
Intravenous drug usePeople who share needles or other supplies while injecting drugs like cocaine and heroin have a high risk for contracting hepatitis C. Even if you only used these types of drugs once years ago, there is still a chance you are infected.
Needlestick injuriesHealth care or other safety workers may come into contact with an infected persons blood if theyre accidentally stuck with a contaminated needle or other sharp object. Parents often worry about their children developing hepatitis C after finding a needle on the ground or at the beach. While thats possible, its unlikely, Dr. Nachman saysthe most commonly discarded needles are insulin needles, which typically dont contain enough blood to transmit hepatitis C. Plus, the virus can only survive about a day outside of the body.
Medical proceduresNow, donated blood and organs are screened for the hepatitis C virus. However, before 1992, that wasnt the case, so people who received blood transfusions or an organ transplant before that time might have become infected.
Tattoos and piercingsThese days, licensed and regulated tattoo parlors dont pose much of a danger. However, piercings or tattoos received in unregulated settings, such as prisons, may spread hepatitis C, Dr. Kodali says.
For Safer Sex Treat Hepatitis C
If you have chronic hepatitis C, of the best strategies for preventing transmission of the virus is to get medical treatment. More than 90 percent cases of hepatitis C can be cured within 8 to 12 weeks of treatment, according to the CDC. Newer hepatitis C treatments are not only effective but generally have fewer and much less severe side effects than previous drugs.
Just be aware that during treatment, transmission can still occur. And a cure doesnt grant you protection against the virus for life. If you continue to engage in high-risk behavior, you can get re-infected, warns Kenneth Sherman, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine and the director of the division of digestive diseases at UC Health in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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How Is Hepatitis C Spread
The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluid. You will only be infected if the virus enters your bloodstream.
In Canada, most people are infected by:
- using or sharing drug paraphernalia contaminated with infected blood, including:
If you have hepatitis C, you can pass the virus to your baby during:
- breastfeeding if your nipples are cracked and bleeding, and your baby also has bleeding in or on the mouth
- it can be hard to tell if a baby has bleeding in or on the mouth
- cracked nipples may not be bleeding but may begin to during breastfeeding
You can also be infected if you receive contaminated:
- blood products
Although rare, hepatitis C can also be spread through unprotected sex especially if it involves blood contact, such as:
- contact with:
- open sores, cuts or wounds
- semen or vaginal fluid if blood is present
Unprotected sex means having sex without using a condom or other barrier safely.
Hepatitis C is not spread through:
- breast milk
What Factors Are Linked To The Sexual Transmission Of Hepatitis C Among Gbmsm
A cluster of factors have been associated with the sexual transmission of hepatitis C.5,6 For sexual transmission of hepatitis C to occur, there must be exposure to the hepatitis C virus in one or more of these situations:
- condomless anal sex
- having an ulcerative STI
Drug use and sex
Where drug use is present, it is difficult to tease apart the extent to which drug use versus sex contributes to the transmission of hepatitis C. For example, party and play or chemsex is when certain drugs are used by gbMSM before or during sex to facilitate, sustain or enhance sexual encounters. The risk of hepatitis C transmission through party and play is twofold, through drug use and through sex. Hepatitis C can be acquired through shared drug use equipment. There is also concern that booty bumping or boofing can damage and/or irritate the tissue of the rectum, which could increase the risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis C.13 Party and play is also associated with types of sex that overlap with sexual risk factors for hepatitis C. For example, gbMSM who party and play are more likely to participate in condomless anal sex with one or more partners and participate in group sex compared with gbMSM who do not party and play.14 Thus, deciphering whether new hepatitis C infections among gbMSM who party and play were acquired through drug use or sex is challenging.
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How Hepatitis C Is Spread During Sex
Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver. It can range in severity from a mild, short-lived illness to a serious, lifelong disease. The hepatitis C virus is spread primarily through contact with the blood of someone whos infected. Its still unclear whether the virus can live in saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions.
These factors increase the risk of spreading hepatitis C during sex:
Having multiple sex partners
Engaging in rough sex, which may lead to bleeding
Having a sexually transmitted disease
- Being infected with HIV
Especially in those who have the above risk factors, hepatitis C can occasionally spread through vaginal intercourse. It might also spread through anal sex, which can damage the lining of the rectum, making it easier for the virus to gain access to the bloodstream. Its not known whether the hepatitis C virus can be passed during oral sex. There is no proof that this has ever happened. The virus is not spread by more casual contact, such as hugging or holding hands.
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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What To Know About Hepatitis C During Oral And Anal Sex
Oral sex does not pose an increased risk of transmitting the hepatitis C virus, according to the American Liver Foundation, unless there are open sores or cuts in the mouth. To be safe, however, the CDC recommends using a new latex condom whenever you have oral sex to reduce the risk of transmitting hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections like HIV.
Anal sex is high-risk, though, because rectal tissue is fragile and can easily tear when manipulated or pushed to expand. If the tissue tears and bleeds, theres a chance for blood-to-blood contact. For this reason, its best to always use a condom during anal sex. Its also important to liberally apply water- or silicone-based lubricant to keep anal tissue and condoms from tearing.
If you use sex toys, it may be safest to avoid sharing them. If youre engaging in rough sex that results in skin tears, even tiny traces of infected blood that remain on a toy can pass through openings in the skin although the risk of spreading bloodborne diseases remains very low. Whats more, the human papilloma virus has been transmitted via sex toys, even after cleaning.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hep C
After the initial infection, Hep C incubates inside your body for anywhere from two weeks to six months. During that time, about 80% of people experience little-to-no signs that somethings wrong. Some people, however, may experience fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored feces, joint pain, and jaundice .
After its done incubating, Hep C can live inside your body for years before it starts showing symptoms. But when it does, symptoms of Hep C include easy bruising, easy bleeding, fatigue, low appetite, yellow discoloration in your skin and eyes, dark urine, itchy skin, fluid buildup in the abdomen and swelling in the legs, weight loss, and others. These symptoms are due to liver disease caused by the damage the infection has done to your liver. Its important to note that these symptoms only show up if someone is untreated!
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