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How Is the Hepatitis C Virus Spread?

The hepatitis C virus is transmitted mostly through infected blood and blood products. Before 1990, there was no way to test for the hepatitis C 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 the hepatitis C virus from blood transfusions.
Today, most of the time, the hepatitis C virus is spread through infected blood, whether it is from working in a laboratory or a dialysis unit, by infected needles used for tattoos or body piercing, or through sharing drug needles. In a very few cases, people have been infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing objects that may have a very tiny amount of blood on them, such as a toothbrush, razor, or tools used for manicures.
In rare cases, the hepatitis C virus is spread through sexual intercourse. A person cannot get hepatitis C from a kiss or other normal everyday activities, such as hugging or shaking hands.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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