Ongoing infections carry increased risk
Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver. HCV infections that are not fought off by the immune system are called chronic infections, and they develop in 60–80% of persons.1
Chronic HCV infection increases the risk of cirrhosis of the liver to 15–30% within 20 years.1
Activities known to spread HCV:
Sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs
Needlestick injuries in healthcare settings
Unregulated settings providing tattoos and piercings
Less common cause of transmission:
Sharing personal care items, like razors or toothbrushes that may have been in contact with blood
Having sexual contact with a person infected with HCV
HCV can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby
HCV is not spread through:
The sharing of food or drinks with an infected person
Casual contact, such as hugging or kissing
Take action. Get tested.
HCV is often detected during routine blood tests. A person that has been infected for many years may experience serious liver problems despite having no symptoms.
An early, accurate diagnosis can prevent health problems that may result from infection and prevent further transmission of the virus. Reliable in vitro laboratory diagnostic testing is a crucial first step.
If detected early, hepatitis C is treatable and curable.
Hepatitis C Risk Self-Assessment Tool
1. WHO. Hepatitis C Fact Sheet. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/. Accessed December 12, 2017.
2. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Recommendations for Testing, Managing, and Treating Hepatitis C. http://www.hcvguidelines.org. Accessed September 21, 2017.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2010 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines. January 28, 2011.
4. Nation Health Service in England. Hepatitis C – Causes. July 10, 2015. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-c/causes/.
5. Backmund M, et al. Hepatitis C Virus Infection and Injection Drug Users: Prevention, Risk Factors, and Treatment. Clin Infect Dis. 2005;40:S330-5.
6. Tahan V, et al. Sexual transmission of HCV between spouses. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005;100:821-4.
7. Van de Laar TJ, et al. Increase in HCV incidence among men who have sex with men in Amsterdam most likely caused by sexual transmission. J Infect Dis. 2007;196:230-8.
8. Shimokura GH, et al. Risk of hepatitis C virus infection from tattooing and other skin piercing services. Can J Infect Dis. 1995;6(5):235-238.
9. Lock G, et al. Hepatitis C - contamination of toothbrushes: myth or reality? J Viral Hepat. 2006;13:571-573.
10. Tumminelli F, et al. Shaving as potential source of hepatitis C virus infection. Lancet. 1995;345(8950):658.
11. Moyer VA, et al. Screening for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159:349-357.
12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People Born 1945-19654 (Baby Boomers). http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/populations/1945-1965.htm. Accessed September 19, 2017.