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!
How Do I Tell Someone I Have Hepatitis C
Informing someone that you have hepatitis C can be hard. Most people know little about this disease. You can start with how you found out about your diagnosis. It helps to be prepared with educational materials on HCV, and to be aware of the ways that people can and cannot be infected. For example, it is very rare for HCV to be transmitted during sex. Be sure to tell anyone who may be directly affected, such as:
You may want to encourage others to be tested for HCV if they have similar risk factors.
Tattoo And Body Piercing
Some people have been infected with hepatitis C through tattooing and unsterile body piercing procedures. Before undergoing these procedures, make sure that an infection control procedure is applied by body piercers and tattoo artists. It includes using needles that can only be used once, surgical gloves, dye tubes, etc. Ask the doctor about the standard procedures used to control the infection and to understand the importance of these procedures. Since the pieces of equipment are not sterile, the chances of infection are very high in tattoo or body piercings done in prison, backyard operator, or in juvenile detention centers.
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Hepatitis C Transmission And Risks
TransmissionHepatitis C is transmitted when the blood of an infected person passes into the blood of an uninfected person. Hep C is most easily spread through direct blood-to-blood contact, such as:
- Sharing needles and other equipment used to inject drugs. Injection drug users who share needles, syringes and paraphernalia associated with injecting are at the highest risk of HCV.
- Blood transfusions and organ transplants before July 1992. Widespread screening of the blood supply in the United States began in 1992.
- Sexual contact with someone who has HCV. The risk of becoming infected with hepatitis C through unprotected sexual intercourse is low-but it is still possible. HCV sexual transmission risk is higher among those who are HIV positive and in men who have sex with men . Sex with multiple partners, having a sexually transmitted disease, and rough sex may increase the risk of transmitting HCV sexually.
- Having an HCV-positive mother. Women who are infected with hepatitis C have a 6 percent chance of passing the virus along to their babies during pregnancy or delivery. The risk increases significantly if the woman has HIV, hepatitis B or a high HCV viral load . The hepatitis C transmission risk is doubled or tripled in women with HIV. It is unlikely that hep C can be transmitted through breastfeeding or breast milk.
Although the risk is uncertain, you may also be at risk if you:
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How Can I Make A Difference For People With Hepatitis C
Anyone can help raise awareness about this widespread disease. Citizens can write letters to their state representatives or local newspapers and get involved in volunteer efforts with liver disease or Veteran-affiliated organizations . Speaking at support groups and sharing your experience is also a good way to help others with HCV.
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What To Do If You Have Hepatitis C
If youre living with hepatitis C, you certainly dont want to pass it to anyone else.
Because the virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, here are some of the things you can do to prevent spreading it:
- Never share needles or other injection equipment. If you use IV drugs, ask your doctor about substance abuse treatment programs.
- Always use bandages to cover up cuts and scratches.
- Be very careful when disposing of items that may have blood on them. These may include bandages, tampons or other menstrual products, and tissues.
- Dont share personal items, such as your toothbrush, razor, or fingernail scissors, with anyone.
- Dont donate blood. Blood donations are tested for hepatitis C, so it will be discarded anyway.
- Dont sign up to be an organ donor or donate semen.
- Always tell healthcare workers of your hepatitis C status.
- If you cut yourself, clean up the blood promptly and thoroughly using a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Carefully dispose of or disinfect anything that touched your blood.
- Inform your sex partner about your hepatitis C status. Using latex condoms will help lower the chance of spreading the virus.
A mother can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth, but the risk is less than 5 percent. Its more likely to happen if you also have HIV. If you think youve been exposed to the virus, ask your doctor if you should get tested.
Contaminated Needles And Infected Blood
You can get hepatitis C from sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment during recreational drug use. Banknotes and straws used for snorting may also pass the virus on.
Being exposed to unsterilised tattoo and body piercing equipment can also pass hepatitis C on. Occasionally, you can get it from sharing a towel, razor blades or a toothbrush if there is infected blood on them.
Hepatitis C infection is also passed on in healthcare settings, from needle stick injuries or from medical and dental equipment that has not been properly sterilised. In countries where blood products are not routinely screened, you can also get hepatitis C by receiving a transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
You can prevent hepatitis C by:
- never sharing needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with infected blood
- only having tattoos, body piercings or acupuncture in a professional setting, where new, sterile needles are used
- following the standard infection control precautions, if youre working in a healthcare setting.
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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
- Get a body piercing or tattoo with nonsterile instruments
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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What Is The Difference Between Relapse And Nonresponse
The goal of treating chronic hepatitis C is to completely clear the virus. This means that your “viral load” is zero or so low that the virus can’t be detected with standard blood tests.
Without treatment, the hepatitis C virus in liver cells constantly makes copies of itself, and the virus ends up not just in liver cells but also in the bloodstream. Treatment is intended to completely stop reproduction of the virus so that it doesn’t continue to enter the bloodstream or cause any more injury to liver cells.
Successful treatment results in a “sustained virological response.” This means the virus becomes completely undetectable before the treatment is finished, and it remains undetectable for 6 months after treatment is stopped.
A “relapse” means the viral load drops to an undetectable level before treatment is completed, but becomes detectable again within 6 months after treatment is stopped. Even if the virus returns at a level that is lower than it was before treatment, a relapse is still considered to have occurred. A relapse can be determined if the viral load starts to rise during treatment, or at any time after the virus becomes undetectable.
A “nonresponse” means the viral load never drops significantly and the virus remains detectable throughout the course of treatment.
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Activities That Do Not Spread Hepatitis C
Because HCV is spread through blood, you cannot get the virus from:
- Breast milk
- Food or water
- Casual contact with an HCV-infected person, such as hugging, holding hands, or kissing
- Being coughed or sneezed on
- Sharing food, drinks, or eating utensils
- Via mosquitoes or other insects
Additional reporting by Deborah Shapiro.
Sexual Transmission And Viral Hepatitis
Certain adults who are sexually active should be vaccinated against hepatitis B.
CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend hepatitis B vaccination for
- sexually active people with more than one sex partner during the previous 6 months
- people seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
- sex partners of people with hepatitis B and
- men who have sex with men .
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If I Have Hepatitis C Infection Does This Mean I Am Going To Have Other Health Problems
Hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Other conditions have also been linked to hepatitis C and are known as extra-hepatic manifestations of hepatitis C. They include diabetes mellitus, arthritis, hypothyroid, and aplastic anemia among other conditions. Talk to your provider for more information.
Articles On Hepatitis C
If you’ve just been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you may wonder how you got it and worry about passing on the virus to a loved one. If you’ve had the disease for a long time without knowing it, you could dwell on every little incident in the past where you might have accidentally exposed a family member to the disease.
It’s important to remember that hepatitis C isn’t easy to catch. If you take a few precautions, it’s almost impossible to pass on the disease to someone else.
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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.
Is Hepatitis A Contagious Is It Curable
According to the CDC, it’s very contagious, found in the blood or stool of people who are infected, and it spreads either through close contact or through contaminated foods or drinks. US outbreaks in the past have included contaminated frozen strawberries and scallops. Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating contaminated food, according to the FDA.
Most people with hepatitis A don’t have a prolonged illness, but symptoms can last up to two months and include headache, fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice. Jaundice causes the skin or eyes to take on a yellow color, and it can also cause dark urine or light-colored stool.
Unlike other types of hepatitis , hepatitis A doesn’t typically cause chronic liver damage or chronic illness, but it can cause serious disease in some, including older adults and people with chronic liver diseases.
A CDC investigation into cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in young children is ongoing and isn’t currently linked to the investigation of organic strawberries or any other foods.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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How To Prevent Hepatitis C
There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C. Avoiding contact with infected blood is the only way to prevent the condition.
The most common way for people to contract hepatitis C is by injecting street drugs. Because of this, the best way to prevent hepatitis C is to avoid injecting.
Treatments can help many people quit. People in the U.S. can call the National Helpline for help with finding treatments.
If a person finds it difficult to stop, they can reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis C by never sharing drug equipment, ensuring a clean, hygienic environment, and always using new equipment, including syringes, ties, alcohol swabs, cottons, and cookers.
People who may come into contact with infected blood, such as healthcare workers and caretakers, should always wash the hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact, or suspected contact, with blood. They should also wear gloves when touching another persons blood or open wounds.
People can also reduce their risk by making sure that any tattoo artist or body piercer they visit uses fresh, sterile needles and unopened ink.
The risk of contracting hepatitis C through sexual contact is low. Using barrier protection, such as condoms, reduces the risk of most sexually transmitted infections.
People who have hepatitis C can reduce the risk of transmitting it to others by:
There are many misconceptions about how hepatitis C spreads. People cannot transmit or contract the virus through:
Enteric Routes: Transmission Of Hepatitis A And Hepatitis E
The Hepatitis A and hepatitis E viruses are both transmitted by enteric, that is digestive or by fecal, routes. This is also known as the fecal-oral route. To be exposed to these viruses, you must ingest fecal matter that is infected with the virus. While there are several ways in which this fecal-oral route can be established, poor hygiene and poor sanitary conditions in some countries lead to higher rates of infection of these viruses.
As a result, some areas of the world, like India, Bangladesh, and Central and South America, are particularly prone to the hepatitis E virus. About one-third of people in the United States have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
It is believed that the hepatitis F virus may also be spread by enteric routes.
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Are There Supplements That Are Good For My Liver
If a person eats a balanced diet, they will normally get enough vitamins and minerals. People with liver disease should avoid taking large amounts of supplements or “mega-vitamins.” This is because the liver has to do extra work to process them. Your provider may put you on a general multivitamin without iron.
Can I Catch Hep C From Getting A Tattoo
Its possible to get hepatitis C through tattooing and body piercings if the facility is unlicensed and equipment isnt properly sterilized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Its not all that different than the way you can get hep C from sharing unsanitized personal items like glucose monitors, razors, nail clippers, or toothbrushes, which all have the potential of coming in contact with a persons blood. In licensed tattooing facilities though, theres no documented risk of getting hep C.
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Can You Get Hep C From Recreational Drug Use
The main way hepatitis C is spread is blood-to-blood, says Rena Fox, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and an internist and hepatitis specialist at UCSF Health. So any activity where you might come in contact with another persons blood, like sharing needles, puts you at risk.
In fact, sharing needles and syringes is the most common way hepatitis C is spread, says Dr. Fox. We started seeing the number of new cases per year rise again about four or five years ago, along with an increase in heroin use with the opioid epidemic, she says. If people become addicted to prescription opiates, but then lose access to them, she explains, they may turn to heroin which often involves sharing needles.