Because hepatitis C is spread through infected blood, it is important to avoid other people's blood or things that might have other people's blood on them. Some specific hepatitis C prevention strategies include the following:
- Don't ever shoot drugs. If you shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program. If you can't stop, never reuse or share syringes, water, or drug works, and get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
- Don't share personal items that might have blood on them. These items include razors, toothbrushes, and personal health supplies.
- If you are a healthcare worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other "sharps." Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Consider the health risks if you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing. You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them, or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health practices, such as washing hands and using disposable gloves.
- If you have multiple sex partners, practice safe sex, including always using a condom, dental dam, or other latex barrier and avoid "rough sex" or other activities that might cause bleeding.
(Click Hepatitis C Prevention for more information.)
People facing hepatitis C are naturally concerned about what the future holds. Understanding hepatitis C and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones plan hepatitis C treatment, think about lifestyle changes, and make decisions about their quality of life and finances. Many people with this condition want to know their prognosis. They may ask their doctor or search for statistics on their own.
It is important to know that the hepatitis C virus, or HCV, can affect you much differently than it does someone else. For example, some people have very bad cirrhosis and late symptoms of hepatitis C after many years of having hepatitis C, while others have very few scars. Of the people who have the virus for 20 years, approximately 20 percent, or 1 out of 5 patients, will have severe scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver. Once cirrhosis develops, the person is at risk for many life-threatening complications of hepatitis C.
(Click Hepatitis C Prognosis for more information on this topic.)