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Information on Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C can only be contracted through blood to blood contact. Most people are unaware they have Hepatitis C until they get tested. You can unknowingly carry it for decades without symptoms.

How is Hepatitis C spread?

  • Primarily by direct contact with human blood.
  • Injecting drugs, as the needles and/or other drug "works" used to prepare or inject the drug(s) may have had someone else's blood that contained HCV on them.
  • Receiving blood, blood products, or solid organs from a donor whose blood contained HCV.
  • If you were ever a healthcare worker and had frequent contact with blood on the job, especially accidental needle sticks.
  • During the birth a mother's infected blood may have gotten into your body.
  • If you ever had sex with a person infected with HCV if blood was present during sex.
  • If you have ever shared items such as razors or toothbrushes that might contain blood from an HCV positive person.

Hepatitis C can be spread by sharing:

  • Needles, works, crack pipes or straws to use drugs.
  • Needles or ink for tattooing.
  • Needles for body piercing, steroids, or acupuncture.
  • Personal items that may have blood on them, such as toothbrushes, razors, nail clipper, etc.

This video, produced by Public Health Seattle and Kings County, shows a very accurate possibility of contamination. Hepatitis C, and HIV may easily spread through all injection drug works.

Hepatitis C can also be spread by:

  • Direct contact with infected blood.
  • Mother to child transmission.
  • The risk of getting Hepatitis C through sex is low, but the risk is increased if blood is present during sex or if there are open sores on or in the genitals.

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