Hepatitis C Prevention
Effective prevention of hepatitis C begins with understanding how the virus is transmitted. Since hepatitis C is spread through infected blood, it's important to avoid other people's blood or things that could have blood on them. Tips for prevention include not injecting drugs, considering the health risks of tattoos and body piercings, and safely handling needles if you are a healthcare professional.
Can Hepatitis C Be Prevented?
The first step in hepatitis C prevention is knowing how the virus is spread. Hepatitis C transmission occurs most frequently when a person comes in contact with infected blood. This can occur when working in a dialysis unit or when sharing needles for tattoos, body piercings, or drugs. Toothbrushes, razors, or manicure tools can also harbor small amounts of infected blood.
While hepatitis C can be spread through sexual intercourse, this is rare.
Specific Tips for Hepatitis C PreventionBecause hepatitis C is spread through infected blood, the most important way to prevent infection is to avoid other people's blood or things that might have other people's blood on them. Some specific ways to reduce your chances of infection include:
- Don't ever shoot drugs. If you do shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program. If you can't stop, never reuse or share syringes, water, or drug works. Also, 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. This includes always using a condom, dental dam, or other latex barrier and avoiding "rough sex" or other activities that might cause bleeding.