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.
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