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!
Groups At High Risk Of Hep B Transmission
Hep B can only be passed on through blood-to-blood contact, unprotected sex or during birth so you might be at risk of having hep B if you:
- have moved to Australia from a country where hep C is widespread
- were born to a mother who was hep B positive during her pregnancy
- live or have lived with someone with hep B
- have or have had a sexual partner who has hep B
- have ever injected drugs or steroids
- are in prison or have ever been in prison
- have had blood transfusions, blood products or organ transplant in Australia before February 1990
- are of Aboriginal ancestry
- have had unsterile cosmetic or medical procedures.
- have had unsterile tattooing or piercing
- have ever taken part in unsterile traditional practices such as traditional tattooing, circumcision, initiation rituals involving blood, and scarification
- do not meet the above profiles but have abnormal liver function tests or experience hep B symptoms
How Is Hepatitis A Treated
Unlike other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A rarely causes long-term liver damage and doesn’t become a long-term illness. There isnt a specific treatment for hepatitis A, and most people will recover fully within one to two months. Usually, symptoms are managed at home with plenty of rest and painkillers and/or medication to help with itchiness, nausea or vomiting may be prescribed.
Occasionally hepatitis A can last longer and, in rare cases, it can be life-threatening if it causes the liver to stop working properly .
Whether youve got symptoms or not, dont prepare food for others or have sex until a healthcare professional tells you that youre no longer infectious.
Once youve recovered from hepatitis A youre immune this means you cant get it again. But you can get other types of hepatitis.
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What Is Hepatitis C
Many people don’t know that they have hepatitis C until they already have some liver damage. This can take many years. Some people who get hepatitis C have it for a short time and then get better. This is called acute hepatitis C. But most people who are infected with the virus go on to develop long-term, or chronic, hepatitis C.
Contagious And Incubation Periods
The incubation periodthe time it takes for symptoms to appear after the hepatitis C virus has entered your bodyis from 2 weeks to 6 months. But not all people have symptoms when they are first infected.
You can spread the virus to someone else at any time after you are infected, even if you don’t have symptoms.
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Can I Get A Manicure Or Pedicure If I Have Hep C
The risk of transmitting hep C at a nail salon is extremely low, Dr. Chung says. Again, the key is that the salon uses single-use tools or follows strict sterilization procedures between each person. That means heat-sterilizing metal tools in a machine called an autoclave, and never reusing items like pumice stones, nail buffers, and foam toe separators. To further reduce your risk, hold off on a mani or pedi if you have an open wound on your hands or feet, skip cuticle pushing and especially clipping, and dont shave your legs right before a pedicure to avoid microscopic skin cuts.
When Will Symptoms Appear After You Have Been Exposed To Hav
It generally takes about 4 weeks for symptoms to appear, but they can start at 2 weeks or they can start up to 8 weeks after you have been exposed. You probably wont get every symptom immediately, but they tend to emerge over days.
Also, you can have no symptoms and have the virus and be contagious. Children especially may be free of symptoms despite being infected.
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Activities That Cannot Pass Hepatitis C
- Casual contact: Hepatitis C is not passed through casual contact with a person living with hepatitis C, including sharing toilets, drinking glasses and eating utensils.
- Hugging, kissing or touching a person living with hepatitis C
- Following harm reduction principles: Using sterile, unused drug use equipment for injecting, snorting or smoking drugs and using new and sterile tattoo and piercing equipment prevents hepatitis C from being passed.
- Using new or sterilized medical equipment during medical procedures
Many of the activities that increase a persons chances of getting hepatitis C are similar to those associated with HIV, and therefore many of the steps to prevent hepatitis C also apply to preventing HIV. See Prevention & Harm Reduction for more information on how to reduce the chances of hepatitis C transmission.
How To Prevent Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus . It can be serious and theres no cure, but the good news is its easy to prevent. You can protect yourself by getting the hepatitis B vaccine and having safer sex. If you have oral, anal, and vaginal sex, use condoms and dental dams to help stop the spread of hepatitis B and other STDs.
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Ways You Wont Spread Hepatitis C
There are some ways in which you wont spread HCV, though. Go ahead and let your significant other have a bite of your sandwich or dessert. According to the CDC, hepatitis C isnt spread by sharing silverware or drinking glasses, or through water or foods. Showing affection by holding hands, hugging, or kissing is also safe, Lee says. And although germs from sneezing or coughing might cause you to get a cold, they wont give you hepatitis C.
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed
Many people find out by chance that they have the virus. They find out when their blood is tested before a blood donation or as part of a checkup when they advise their doctor of symptoms that may be related to hepatitis C. Some people are screened for hepatitis C because they are at higher risk of becoming infected. Often people with hepatitis C have high levels of liver enzymes in their blood.
If your doctor thinks you may have hepatitis C, he or she will talk to you about having a blood test. If the test shows hepatitis C antibodies, then you have had hepatitis C at some point. A second test can tell if you still have hepatitis C.
When blood tests show that you have hepatitis C, you may need a liver biopsy to see how well your liver is working. During a liver biopsy, a doctor will insert a needle between your ribs to collect a small sample of liver tissue to look at under a microscope. You may also have imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound, to make sure that you don’t have liver cancer.
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A Closer Look At Hepatitis Transmission
Here’s a more detailed look at how different types of hepatitis are transmitted:
- Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and water and is thus fecal-oral.
- Hepatitis B is transmitted by blood, needles, and sex. Hepatitis B can also be passed along during delivery from a mother to her newborn.
- Hepatitis C is transmitted by needles and blood.
- Hepatitis D can only be transmitted to a person who already has hepatitis B. Hepatitis D is transmitted by blood, needles, and sex. Hepatitis D can also be transmitted during delivery from a mother to her newborn.
- Hepatitis E is transmitted by means of contaminated water. Like hepatitis A, hepatitis E is fecal-oral.
How Do You Test For Hepatitis A
If youve been in contact with someone who has had hepatitis A, are at risk of getting hepatitis A, or if you start to have symptoms its a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional. A simple blood test will show whether you have the virus.
If you test positive, they may also do another type of blood test to check if your liver is working properly. You should also be tested for other STIs.
Its important that you tell people you live with or have close contact with, and your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested. Many people who have hepatitis A dont notice anything wrong, and by telling those youre in close contact with you can help to stop the virus being passed on.
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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.
Can I Get A Tattoo Or Piercing After Treatment
Cleanliness is the most important factor here. As long as you see a reputable, professional tattoo artist or piercer who uses appropriate hygienic practices between clients, theres no reason you cant get a new tattoo or piercing after hep C treatment, Dr. Chung says. Remember: You can be re-infected with HCV at any time, so its important to vet the facility in advance. Confirm the tattoo or piercing shop uses sterile practices, including wearing gloves, disinfecting all surfaces, and using single-use needles or completely sterilizing tools between uses.
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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
Sex And Dirty Needles
Hepatitis A can also be passed on through sex without a condom or dental dam with someone who has the virus, even if they dont have symptomsIn particular, via anal sex, fingering, rimming, fisting, or exploring the area around the anus with your fingers, mouth or tongue. Touching used condoms, sex toys and douching equipment that have been in someone elses anus can also pass the virus on.
You can protect yourself by:
- Knowing the status of your sexual partners.
- Using a new male or female condom or dental dam every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
- Using a new dental dam or latex gloves for rimming and fingering or using latex gloves for fisting.
- Covering sex toys with a new condom and wash them after use.
- Avoiding sex that involves contact with faeces .
- Washing your hands after touching someones anus or handling used condoms and sex toys.
- Using a new condom for every sexual partner and having regular STI tests.
- Having the hepatitis A vaccine if youre in close contact with someone with hepatitis A or if youre in a high-risk group. This can also be provided as prophylaxis if provided within two weeks of exposure.
Sharing contaminated needles and syringes during recreational drug use can also pass hepatitis A on. Make sure you use new injecting equipment every time you inject drugs.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis does not prevent you from getting hepatitis A, nor does the contraceptive pill or other forms of contraception .
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How Do You Get Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is really contagious. Its transmitted through contact with semen , vaginal fluids, and blood. You can get it from:
having vaginal, anal, or oral sex
sharing toothbrushes and razors
sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has the Hep B virus on it.
Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it.
Hepatitis B isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get hepatitis B from sharing food or drinks or using the same fork or spoon. Hepatitis B is also not spread through kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.
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.
- Semen and genital fluids may be infectious but there is less research on this.
- 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.
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Who Is Likely To Be Affected By Hepatitis A
Certain people are more at risk than others for hepatitis A. These include:
- People who use recreational drugs, both injected and non-injected types.
- Men who have sex with men.
- People who have close contact with someone who already is infected.
- People who have close contact with someone adopted from a country where hepatitis A is common, or people who travel to countries where hepatitis A is common.
- People who work with non-human primates.
- People who have clotting factor issues, including hemophilia.
- People who work in child care, or children who are in childcare.
Avoid Alcohol And Drugs
One of the most important jobs of your liver is to break down drugs and alcohol. If you have hepatitis C, one of the best things you can do is to avoid substances that may harm your liver, such as alcohol and illegal drugs. If you have cirrhosis, you also may need to avoid certain medicines.
If you use illegal drugs or drink alcohol, it is important to stop. Being honest with your doctor about your drug and alcohol use will help you deal with any substance use disorders. If you don’t feel that you can talk openly with your doctor, you may want to find a doctor you feel more comfortable with. If you want to stop using drugs or alcohol and need help to do so, ask your doctor or someone else you trust about drug and alcohol treatment options.
Because many medicines can stress your liver, talk to your doctor before you take any prescription or over-the-counter medicines. This includes herbal remedies as well.
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Can You Pass Hepatitis C Through Other Types Of Sexual Contact Such As Oral And Anal Sex
Sex and Sexuality
There is no proof that anyone has ever spread the virus through oral sex, although it may be possible. Anal sex may damage the lining of the rectum and make it easier to pass the virus through the blood.
Using condoms will help prevent spreading the hepatitis C virus and will also protect you against other sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis B.
You cannot spread the hepatitis C virus through other types of contact, such as hugging or kissing someone on the cheek.
Could I Get Hep C In The Hospital
Before the medical community identified hepatitis C as a dangerous virus, it existed in the blood supply that hospitals used for transfusions or organ transplants. People got hepatitis C if they received a transfusion before we knew how to test for it, says Dr. Fox. Today though, blood is screened before being administered to patients, so the odds of getting hep C from it is extremely unlikely.
There are also cases of babies who are born with hep C, but that has nothing to do with hospital itself: If a woman has the virus, there is a 6% chance her infant will be born with it, too, according to the CDC. For that reason, its important to be tested for hepatitis C if you are thinking about getting pregnant, and also during pregnancy.
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Why Is Needle Sharing So Dangerous
Sharing needles is the most common way people contract hepatitis C because the virus is transmitted via infected blood when a contaminated object is jabbed through the skin, touching an open wound. The virus can survive outside the human body for up to three weeks. Although hepatitis C is highly contagious, it cannot be transmitted by touching, kissing or coughing. It’s other modes of transmission, via sexual intercourse or from mother to child, are rare.
Before 1992 — the year blood screening for hepatitis C became available — blood transfusion was the leading mode of transmission in the United States. That’s one reason that baby boomers, or people born from 1945-1965, are five times more likely to have hepatitis C, according to the CDC, which recommends universal screening for this group. Baby boomers still comprise about 75% of all infections in the United States, but an alarming number of new infections are cropping up in people younger than 30 who share needles and other non-sterile equipment to inject drugs.
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