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    Could I Get Hepatitis C?

    More than 3 million Americans have a long-term infection from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Anyone who has this disease can give it to someone else through blood and other bodily fluids.

    Once you've learned what situations make you likely to catch it, though, you can take steps to protect yourself or get diagnosed and treated.

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    Who’s at Risk?

    The odds are higher that you’ll get hepatitis C if you:

    Had a blood transfusion before 1990. A screening test for HCV went into use that year. Before then, this was the main cause of most new cases in the U.S.

    Use needles to take illegal drugs. This is one of the most common ways to get hep C. Up to 80% of new users get the disease within 6 to 12 months.

    Snort cocaine. People who share straws or other tools to inhale this drug raise their risk.

    Work around blood or needles. Doctors, nurses, and people in the lab get hepatitis C more often than others. They’re more likely to come in contact with blood and get accidental needle sticks.

    Are on dialysis . You can get the disease from equipment that isn’t properly cleaned or should have been thrown away but was reused.

    Have a risky sex life. If you have more than one partner or sleep with people who have sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV, you’re more likely to get hep C than people who don’t.

    Have a spouse or partner who has it, or care for someone who does. When you're in close daily contact with an infected person, that puts you at risk.

    Have body piercings, tattoos, or get manicures and pedicures. Equipment and supplies can be infected with HCV, but this type of infection doesn’t happen often. To be on the safe side, make sure all tools are sterile or disposable, even the tattoo ink.

    Were born to a mother with hepatitis C. Moms can pass the disease to babies, but it doesn’t happen all the time. If the mother has HIV and hepatitis C, there’s more of a chance the baby will get infected.

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