Hepatitis C Vaccine
Researchers are hopeful that a vaccine for hepatitis C may be available by 2010. Until an effective vaccine is available (and even afterwards), it's important to avoid other people's blood or items that may have blood on them -- since the hepatitis C virus is spread through infected blood. This includes things like not injecting drugs, considering the health risks of tattoos and body piercings, and using barrier precautions and safely handling needles if you are a healthcare professional.
Hepatitis C Vaccine: A SummaryWhile there is a hepatitis A vaccine and a hepatitis B vaccine, there is currently no hepatitis C vaccine available. Research scientists are actively attempting to develop a vaccine for hepatitis C -- both for hepatitis C prevention and for those who are already infected with the hepatitis C virus. If successful in clinical trials, a vaccine may be available by 2010.
Other Prevention StrategiesUntil a vaccine is available for hepatitis C, there are a number of steps a person can take in order to prevent an infection with the hepatitis C virus. Because hepatitis C is spread through infected blood, the most important thing is to avoid other people's blood or things that might have other people's blood on them. Some specific suggestions for preventing hepatitis C include the following:
- Don't ever shoot drugs.
- If you are a healthcare worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps. Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Don't share personal items that might have blood on them. These items include razors, toothbrushes, and personal health supplies.
- 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.
- 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.