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Hepatitis Health Center

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What Increases Your Risk

Certain things may increase your risk of becoming infected with the hepatitis C virus. Just because you are at risk for getting hepatitis C does not mean that you have the virus.

Many people do not know how they became infected with hepatitis C.

Recommended Related to Hepatitis

Frequently Asked Questions About Viral Hepatitis

It's an inflammation of your liver that's caused by a virus. There are five types of this condition, but the most common ones in the U.S. are hepatitis A, B, and C.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions About Viral Hepatitis article > >

Needle use or accidental stick

You can get hepatitis C from:

  • Sharing needles and other equipment (such as cotton, spoons, and water) used to inject drugs.
  • Having your ears or another body part pierced, getting a tattoo, or having acupuncture with needles that have not been sterilized properly. The risk of getting hepatitis C in these ways is very low.
  • Working in a health care environment where you are exposed to fresh blood or where you may be pricked with a used needle. Following standard precautions for health care workers makes this risk very low.

Other possible risks

Sometimes people get hepatitis C from:

  • Having had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992. Since 1992, all donated blood and organs are screened for hepatitis C.
  • Having been exposed to unsafe practices for giving shots, such as reusing needles. This occurs in some developing countries.
  • Needing to have your blood filtered by a machine (hemodialysis) because your kidneys cannot filter your blood.
  • Being born to a mother who has hepatitis C. The risk of passing the virus to a child is greater if the mother is also infected with HIV.

People born from 1945 to 1965 are 5 times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than people born in other years.4

The risk of getting hepatitis C through sexual contact is very small.1 The risk is higher if you have many sex partners.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 20, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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