Hepatitis C Transmission
Hepatitis C transmission occurs most frequently when a person comes in contact with infected blood. This can happen by working in a dialysis unit or sharing needles for tattoos, body piercings, or drugs. Toothbrushes, razors, or manicure tools can also harbor small amounts of infected blood. While transmission of hepatitis C can occur through sexual intercourse, this is rare.
How Does Hepatitis C Transmission Occur?
Hepatitis C transmission occurs mostly through infected blood and blood products. Before 1990, there was no way to test for the virus when people donated blood. So some people were infected when they had a blood transfusion. But because we can now test donated blood before it's used, it is extremely rare for people to get hepatitis C from blood transfusions.
Today, transmission of hepatitis C occurs most frequently through infected blood, whether it is from working in a laboratory or a dialysis unit, by infected needles used for tattoos or body piercings, or through sharing drug needles. In a few cases, people have been infected with hepatitis C by sharing objects that may have a tiny amount of blood on them, such as a toothbrush, razor, or tools used for manicures.
Hepatitis C can also be spread by sexual intercourse, but this is rare. For steady sexual partners, there are not any recommendations about changing your sexual practices just because you or your partner has hepatitis C. But having more than one sex partner does increase your chance of getting the virus.
Can Transmission of Hepatitis C Occur Through Normal Activities?
Hepatitis C is not transmitted through normal, everyday activities. You won't get infected from things like:
- Sitting next to a person with the virus
- Shaking hands
- Sharing eating utensils.
Though we know most methods of hepatitis C transmission, some people are never able to figure out exactly how they got the infection.
How Can I Avoid Transmitting Hepatitis C?
There are some things you can do to avoid spreading hepatitis C if you are already infected. You should not:
- Donate blood
- Take any illegal drugs
- Share any types of needles.
Remember, hepatitis C is most commonly spread through infected blood.
Don't let other people borrow your razor, toothbrush, or anything else that might have blood on it.
If you are in a monogamous relationship, you should talk with your healthcare provider about the risk of passing the virus to your partner through sex. You should also consider having your partner tested for the hepatitis C virus. If you have more than one sex partner, you or your partners should always use condoms when you have sex.
These suggestions can help stop hepatitis C transmission.