How Hepatitis C Is Caught And Passed On
Most HCV infections come from blood to blood transmission.
- This is when HCV infected blood directly enters another persons bloodstream. Saliva and tears are not infectious.
- As with HIV, you cannot transmit or catch HCV by touching, kissing, hugging, or from sharing cutlery, cups or dishes.
- Unlike HIV, which dies in a few minutes outside the body, HCV remains infectious for at least a day even after blood has dried, and in some circumstances, perhaps for a week or longer. This is why you should not share items that may contain even tiny traces of blood.
What Do Hepatitis C Symptoms Look Like
Hepatitis C infection can go through two stages: acute and chronic. In the early, or acute stage, most people dont have symptoms. If they do develop symptoms, these can include:
- flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- jaundice, meaning your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow
While for some people, the infection will clear without treatment, in most cases, acute infection will develop into long-term chronic infection. Chronic infection may not become apparent for a number of years until the liver displays signs of damage. These symptoms can include:
- mental confusion and depression these are specific to hepatitis C
- constantly feeling tired
- nausea, vomiting or tummy pain
- feeling bloated
- joint and muscle pain
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver , which can cause the liver to stop working properly. A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer and these complications can lead to death. Other than a liver transplant, theres no cure for cirrhosis. However, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.
How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
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What If I Accidentally Use My Partners Toothbrush Or Nail Clippers
Sharing personal care items that have come into contact with a persons bloodlike toothbrushes, nail clippers, and razorscan increase the chances of spreading hep C, but its not a common mode of transmission. The risk of any one single episode of that nature is going to be exceedingly low, Dr. Chung says. Its more about avoiding the behavior or habit to reduce the number of potential exposures. So while you should not purposely share these items with someone who has hep C, theres no need to freak if you accidentally slip up once or twice.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
It usually takes a few weeks after becoming infected with hepatitis A to exhibit symptoms, and people also can have the infection and not ever have symptoms.
Often, children who are infected do not develop noticeable symptoms.
For those who do develop symptoms, they can include the following:
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When Is It Safe For Me To Get Pregnant
Its best to wait until after you complete treatment to get pregnant, Dr. Chung says. Theres no risk of transmission once youre cured. If you find yourself pregnant with hep C, the chances your baby will get it are pretty lowabout 6 percent. One exception: Mothers with both hep C and HIV tend to have considerably higher viral loads, meaning theres more of the virus in their blood, so the risk goes up to 20 percent, Dr. Chung says. Its not clear if hep C medications are safe during pregnancy, so most doctors will delay treatment until after you give birth.
Should You Get Tested
The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 18 get tested for Hepatitis C. But you should especially consider being tested if you:
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
- Have used injected drugs
- Were born to a mother who had hepatitis C
- Were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
- Got a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- Have been a long-term hemodialysis patient
- Work in health care or public safety and were exposed to blood through a needle stick or other sharp object injury
If you get tested and find out you have hepatitis C, tell your sex partner and anyone else who may have been exposed to your blood, including through drug use.
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What Happens In Your Body With Hep C
Once the virus enters your bloodstream, it heads for your liver. Hepatitis C is a viral infection, and its a virus that lives primarily in the liver, says Dr. Goff. The reason it causes trouble is our immune system tries to get rid of it, but the virus mutates quite quickly, so it keeps alluding being caught. The liver gets caught in the crossfire.
Over time, the chronic infection can lead to serious liver scarring and damage, increasing the risk of life-threatening liver failure and cancer, Dr. Fox says.
How Do You Test For Hepatitis B
A simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have the virus. You may also be given extra tests to see if your liver is damaged.
If youve got hepatitis B you should be tested for other STIs. Its important that you tell your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested and treated. Many people who have hepatitis B dont notice anything wrong, and by telling them you can help to stop the virus being passed on. This can also stop you from getting the infection again.
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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 transmitting it to others.
A few steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission include:
- using a condom during all 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 on 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.
You can learn more on Healthlines page about dating with hepatitis C.
Sample Collection And Rna Extraction In Saliva
Saliva was collected in sterile glass jars. Samples were aliquoted and transferred to 1.5 ml sterile tubes and stored at -80ºC until use. Total RNA was extracted from 200 l of saliva using Trizol reagent following conventional procedures. RNA concentration and quality were determined by spectrophotometry and visualized by 1% agarose gel electrophoresis with ethidium bromide.
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Can You Kiss People If You Have Syphilis
If you have tested positive for syphilis, its best to avoid sexual contact with others until youve been treated, allowed the time for treatment to take effect, and given the OK from your doctor. Your doctor can advise if youre able to keep on kissing while youre being treated it will all depend on where your symptoms are located.
Who Should Get Tested For Hcv
According to current CDC guidelines, everyone in the baby-boom generation should get tested. In addition, the CDC recommends testing for anyone who has ever injected drugs, even if it was years ago, and even if it was only once. Anyone treated for a blood clotting condition before 1987, the year hepatitis C was discovered, should get tested. The same is true for anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1992, the year blood detection was widely implemented.
The CDC also recommends testing for anyone who has been on long-term hemodialysis for kidney disease or anyone who has been exposed to potentially contaminated blood via accidental needle stick or injury with a sharp object. Babies born to a mother with hepatitis C should also be tested, although the CDC recommends waiting to test until the child is at least 18 months old. The child is likely to still have hepatitis C-fighting antibodies for months after birth, so an earlier test might register a false positive.
Finally, the CDC recommends universal testing for anyone who has HIV, as the risk factors for the two infections are similar.
Image credit: jarun011 for iStock via Thinkstock.
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More Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Infection
If you arent sure whether you have hepatitis C, get tested. Testing is especially important if you have sex with more than one person or if you have other risk factors for hepatitis C, including being born being 1945 and 1965, having had a blood transfusion prior to 1992, and injecting drugs .
Talk to your partner about getting tested as well, for hepatitis C and other STDs, so you know the risks before having sex. People who are at risk for hepatitis C are also at risk for HIV and other STDs, emphasizes Talal.
How Do You Get Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can be spread by sexual contact with an infected person or close personal contact . However, it is most often spread by what scientists call the fecal-oral route. This happens when one person eats or drinks something that has small amounts of fecal matter from another person who has hepatitis A. This can happen by touching something that has the virus on it and then putting your hands in your mouth. It can happen when food is grown, picked, processed or served. Water can also be contaminated.
Mothers do not pass on hepatitis A in breast milk. You cannot be infected with HAV by sitting near to or hugging someone with hepatitis A. It does not spread through coughs or sneezes.
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How Common Is Hepatitis C In The United States
In the United States, hepatitis C is the most common chronic viral infection found in blood and spread through contact with blood.14
Researchers estimate that about 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.13 Many people who have hepatitis C dont have symptoms and dont know they have this infection.
Since 2006, the number of new hepatitis C infections has been rising, especially among people younger than age 30 who inject heroin or misuse prescription opioids and inject them.15,16
New screening efforts and more effective hepatitis C treatments are helping doctors identify and cure more people with the disease. With more screening and treatment, hepatitis C may become less common in the future. Researchers estimate that hepatitis C could be a rare disease in the United States by 2036.17
Hiv Treatment And Prevention
Simple, effective treatments for HIV are widely available in Australia. In addition to protecting the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV, these treatments significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Almost all people on HIV treatments have very low levels of virus in their body. This is called having an undetectable viral load. There is no risk of HIV transmission from a person with an undetectable viral load. This is sometimes referred to as undetectable equals untransmissible, or U=U.
For people who do not have HIV, but may be at higher risk of it, affordable medication is available that is more than 99 per cent effective at preventing HIV. Known as PrEP , this medication is available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from your regular GP.
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What Wont Transmit Hepatitis And How To Prevent It
There are 170 million cases of hepatitis C worldwide, and nearly 4 million in the United States. Prevention is important, but hepatitis C canât be spread by sharing utensils and cups, or by casual contact.
This means that if you are diagnosed with hepatitis C and donât know how you got ityou canât blame your infection on sharing a fork with someone. Read on about other ways that you canât catch or transmit hepatitis C.
Whos At Risk For Hepatitis C
You might be more likely to get it if you:
- Inject or have injected street drugs
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
- Got clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
- Received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplants before July 1992
- Got blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for hepatitis C
- Are on dialysis
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Complications Of Hepatitis C
If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver .
Over time, this can cause the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop.
Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.
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Can Hepatitis C Spread Through Saliva
Two letters: N.O. Hepatitis C is spread when the blood of an infected person gets into the body of another person. It does not spread through coughs and sneezes or from sharing food or drinks. Theres also no evidence that kissing transmits the virus, says Raymond Chung, M.D., director of the Hepatology and Liver Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Theoretically, its possible if both people have an open wound on or in their mouths, he says, so maybe hold off on any kissing when your mouth is bleeding.
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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
Prevention Is The Best Medicine
Even though hepatitis C rarely spreads within a household, if you or a family member have the disease, its wise to take precautions to prevent its spread especially if anyone in your home is immune compromised, or has cuts or open sores that increase the risk of infection.
In general, use these common sense preventive tips:
- Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, practice safe sex.
- Clean up spilled or dried blood with a bleach-based cleaning solution and wear rubber gloves.
- Do not share razors.
- Do not share toothbrushes. Though hepatitis C is not transmitted through saliva, there might be blood on the toothbrush, Reau says.
Note that hepatitis C is not transmitted by sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing.
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Can You Get Hepatitis C From Saliva Or Kissing
More than 3.5 million Americans are infected with chronic Hepatitis C, one of the most common causes of liver disease today. Although it is believed to be primarily transmitted through blood to blood contact, there are indications that other means of contracting Hepatitis C are possible. Discover if this means you can get Hepatitis C from saliva and even kissing.
In nearly half the cases of Hepatitis C, the infected individuals cannot identify the source for their infection. While it is believed most cases are due to risk factors involving contaminated blood, there remain unidentified modes of Hepatitis C transmission.
Can you get Hepatitis C from saliva? Yes salivary transmission is one potential explanation for many unexplained viral causes.
Tiny and Infectious
Measuring only about 50 nanometers in diameter, Hepatitis C is an extremely small virus. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter 200,000 Hepatitis C viruses placed end to end would only measure a single centimeter. Smaller than the wavelength of visible light, viral particles have no color. In those who are infected, Hepatitis C may produce approximately one trillion new viral particles every day.
Unlike many other viruses , any potential source of blood to blood contact seems capable of carrying the Hepatitis C virus. This is true, even if the source is indirect, such as a used razor, making HCV far more transmissible than most other blood borne viruses.
Can You Get Hepatitis from Saliva?
How Easy Is It To Transmit Hep C
Heres the good news: Its not easy to transmit hepatitis C without blood exposure, so you really dont have to worry about hugging or sitting close or anything like that, Dr. Fox says. Hepatitis C is in body fluids other than blood, but its harder to pass it without blood exchange.
That said, if you or someone close to you has hepatitis C, certain precautions can keep you extra-safe. For example, if your partner has hep C, its pretty hard to get it while doing normal activities, but you might consider not sharing things that could potentially have blood on it, like nail clippers and toothbrushes, says John Goff, M.D., a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and member of the American Liver Foundations National Medical Advisory Committee.
Other ways you cant get hep C? Breastfeeding, kissing, coughing, sneezing, eating or drinking, according to the CDC. Whew!
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