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:
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Many people with hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms, especially during the first 6 months.
The hepatitis C infection can go through two stages: acute and chronic. In the early acute stage, these symptoms can include:
flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
loss of appetite
yellowing of the eyes and skin .
For some people the infection will clear without treatment.
In most cases an 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.
Symptoms vary but some of the most common include:
problems with short-term memory, concentration and completing complex mental tasks
depression or anxiety
nausea, vomiting or tummy pain
joint and muscle pain.
Hepatitis C Symptoms And Treatment
The virus is usually passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.
It often has no noticeable symptoms. Some peoples bodies can clear the infection on their own but others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection and prevent liver damage.
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Hiv And Hepatitis C Coinfection
HCV infection is common among people with HIV who also inject drugs. Nearly 75% of people living with HIV who report a history of injection drug use are co-infected with HCV. All people who are diagnosed with HIV are recommended to be tested for HCV at least once. People living with HIV are at greater risk for complications and death from HCV infection. Fortunately, direct acting antivirals that are used to treat HCV work equally well in people with and without HIV infection. For more information about HIV and HCV coinfection, visit the HIV.govs pages about hepatitis C and HIV coinfection.
Unregulated Tattoos And Body Piercings
Tattoos and body piercings use needles that pierce through your skin. Each piercing brings more opportunities for the needle to come in contact with infected blood. If you get a tattoo or body piercing using the same needle that’s been exposed to infected blood, it puts you at greater risk of contracting hepatitis C.
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Q: How Do I Prevent Further Damage To My Liver
A: There are several things that you can do to prevent further damage to your liver. We recommend the following:
- Do not drink alcohol.
- See your health care provider regularly.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
- Do not take any new medicines or use over-the-counter or herbal medicines without talking to your health care provider first.
- If you work with solvents or other chemicals that may effect your liver, wear protective equipment.
Your health care provider will provide you with additional advice.
Reactive Or Positive Hepatitis C Antibody Test
- A reactive or positive antibody test means that Hepatitis C antibodies were found in the blood and a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time.
- Once people have been infected, they will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true even if they have cleared the Hepatitis C virus.
- A reactive antibody test does not necessarily mean that you have Hepatitis C. A person will need an additional, follow-up test.
Persons for Whom HCV Testing Is Recommended
- Adults born from 1945 through 1965 should be tested once
- Ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
- Have certain medical conditions, including persons:
- who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
- who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
- with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels
- who have HIV infection
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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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Other Risks Can Include:
- Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another persons blood, such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers
- Inoculation practices involving multiple use needles or immunization air guns
- Exposure of broken skin to HCV infected blood
- HIV infected persons
People with current or past risk behaviors should consider HCV testing and consult with a physician. HCV testing is currently not available at most public health clinics in Missouri. For information about HCV testing that is available, call the HCV Program Coordinator at 573-751-6439.
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The Types Of Viral Hepatitis
There are five main types of viral hepatitis known as hepatitis A , hepatitis B , hepatitis C , hepatitis D , and hepatitis E . That said, there have been cases of acute hepatitis that could not be attributed to one of these five types of hepatitis viruses, alcohol, drugs, or autoimmune disease, which lead researchers to try to find another cause.
Though the etiology of these viruses have not yet been fully established, researchers have identified three other types of viral hepatitis , which they have named hepatitis F , hepatitis G , and transfusions transmitted virus . As relatively new diseases and viral discoveries, information about them and how they work is relatively scarce. We do know, however, that cases of TTV have only been associated with hepatitis in people who have had a blood transfusion.
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What Can I Do If I Think I Have Hepatitis C
A doctor or sexual health clinician can test you to see if you have hepatitis C. If you do, effective treatment with fewer side effects than the older medicine is available and you can discuss how to avoid infecting your sexual partners or people you live with.
It can take three to six months before the blood test for hepatitis C will be able to detect signs of infection in your blood. For people with HIV who may be immunocompromised, the antibody may not be detectable and it may be necessary to request an RNA test which detects the virus.
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What The Cdc Recommends
Were you born between 1945 and 1965? If so, then youre a member of the Hepatitis C generation. The CDC recently recommended that all people born between during this time have a 1-time screening test for Hepatitis C. We now have new drugs that can treat and cure Hepatitis C so you should go get tested today.
The life you save may be your own! Please contact your local healthcare provider.
When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms above, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C. Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C.
None of the symptoms above mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but its important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if theres a risk youre infected, even if you dont have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about whos at risk of having the infection.
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Q: How Do You Clean Up Hcv
A: You may want to keep a first-aid kit in your home and in your car. Always use rubber gloves when cleaning up blood so that you do not come into direct contact with it. The area should be cleaned using a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water or other good disinfectant. Scrub the area thoroughly.
Sexual Transmission Of Hepatitis C: A Rare Event Among Heterosexual Couples
Transmission of hepatitis C virus is primarily attributed to percutaneous exposure to infected blood. Methods to prevent percutaneous transmission are well defined and clear counselling messages exist to reduce person-to-person transmission of virus . While studies suggest that sexual transmission of HCV occurs infrequently, few studies thoroughly investigated sexual risk factors and potential confounding transmission modes within the household . These ambiguities hampered development of clear counselling messages for sexual practices among HCV-infected persons.
While the HCV Partners Study provides much-needed reassurance for the millions living with HCV and in long-term partnerships, these results do not apply to all patient populations. Particularly, HIV-infected men who have sex with men represent a different demographic and recent publications emphasise the role of sex in HCV transmission . This represents a different clinical scenario with other factors that are likely to be important.
Household exposures from sharing blood-contaminated objects provide a plausible alternative route for HCV transmission among partners that may be erroneously ascribed to sex contact . The HCV Partners Study carefully evaluated household practices to account for potential non-sexual HCV transmission. Although partners frequently shared personal grooming items, we found no association between sharing these items and HCV concordance among couples.
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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.
Fact : Safe Sex Practices Are Your Best Bet
In a monogamous, heterosexual, long-term relationship, condoms may not be required, says Dr. Diaz. But even then, your doctor may recommend erring on the side of caution and practicing safe sex until both partners are shown to be negative for HCV. Taking medications as prescribed, being tested for other STDs, and staying in communication with your doctor about safe sex practices can all go a long way toward lowering your transmission risks.
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How Do You Get Hepatitis B
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.
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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 are having sex with more than one person or if you have other risk factors for hepatitis C, including having had a blood transfusion prior to 1992 or injecting drugs .
Talk to your partner about getting tested as well, for hepatitis C and other STIs, so you know the risks before having sex. People who are at risk for hepatitis C are also at risk for HIV and other STIs, notes Talal.
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Giving Blood And Organ Donation
If you have hepatitis C, you cannot give blood.
In a recent research study in America kidneys from people with hepatitis C who had died were transplanted into patients who did not have the virus.
All of the recipients subsequently contracted hepatitis C but were treated for it and all were cured. The benefit of receiving a kidney outweighed the risk of not clearing hepatitis C.
What Are The Chances Of Getting Hep C Sexually
Hepatitis C spreads by contact with an infected persons blood. Although uncommon, hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity, if the person has genital sores and cuts. It can also be transmitted during menstruation. However, just 2% of hepatitis C cases are sexually transmitted.
The risk of getting hepatitis C sexually increases in the following situations:
- Men who have sex with men
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Who Gets Hepatitis C
Persons at highest risk for HCV infection include:
- persons who ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago,
- people who had blood transfusions, blood products or organ donations before June 1992, when sensitive tests for HCV were introduced for blood screening, and
- persons who received clotting factors made before 1987.
Other persons at risk for hepatitis C include:
- long-term kidney dialysis patients,
- health care workers after exposures to the blood of an infected person while on the job,
- infants born to HCV-infected mothers,
- people with high-risk sexual behavior, multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases,
- people who snort cocaine using shared equipment, and
- people who have shared toothbrushes, razors and other personal items with a family member who is HCV-infected.
Do Women Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Infected With Hepatitis Through Sexual Contact
Sex does not determine the risk of being infected with hepatitis through sexual contact. The presence of behavioral and other risk factors may make a person vulnerable to getting hepatitis by sexual contact. Some studies, however, suggest that it is easier for a man to transmit HCV to a woman than vice versa. Furthermore, MSM are 10 to 15 times more at risk of getting infected with hepatitis B than the general population.
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What Are The Chances Of Getting Hepatitis C From Sex
Hepatitis C can spread through sexual intercourse, but itâs rare. And itâs extremely rare among monogamous couples. In fact, the CDC considers the risk of sexual transmission between monogamous couples so low that it doesnât even recommend using condoms. Also, thereâs no evidence that hepatitis C is spread by oral sex. But you should avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers, and sex during menstruation.
If you have HIV or if you have multiple partners, you should take precautions. Using condoms will protect you and your partners.
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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Gay Men Chemsex And Hep C
Group sex and chemsex parties provide the perfect storm for hepatitis C transmission.
The iBase guide Safer HCV sex for gay men is a useful reminder of what to avoid and what steps to take to protect yourself.
The Hepatitis C Trust has some useful information about transmission. They also provide an advocacy service for men who have sex with men who have been re-infected with hepatitis C after previously being successfully treated.
How Do You Prevent Hepatitis C
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C but there are a number of ways to reduce the risk of infection.
Never share needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with infected blood, even old or dried blood can contain the virus.
Only have tattoos, body piercings or acupuncture in a professional setting, where new, sterile needles are used
You can also stop the spread of the virus by practising safer sex. Use condoms, especially during rough sex or if youre menstruating. Use dental dams and latex gloves for rimming, fingering and fisting. Knowing the status of your sexual partner is another important way to stay safe.
If you have HIV, taking your antiretroviral treatment keeps your immune system strong. This way so youre less likely to get other infections, including hepatitis C. For more details on hepatitis C and HIV read our in detail tab.
Taking pre-exposure prophylaxis , the contraceptive pill or any other type of contraception apart from condoms doesnt protect you from hepatitis C and other STIs.
Having regular STI tests is one of the best ways to look after your sexual health. If you are having sex with multiple partners, its even more important to use condoms and get tested regularly even if you dont have any symptoms.
If youve been diagnosed with hepatitis C you should avoid sex until you have finished your treatment and a health care professional says its safe.
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