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Understanding Hepatitis C -- Prevention

How to Prevent Hepatitis C Infection

Hepatitis C virus can only be transmitted through blood transfer. But exposure to tiny amounts of blood is enough to cause infection.

There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection. Here are some steps you can take to prevent becoming infected with hepatitis C.

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Understanding Hepatitis C -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Because hepatitis C doesn't always cause symptoms, you may not know you have the virus. Your doctor won't check for hepatitis C unless you think you've had contact with a person who is infected or if you were born between 1945 and 1965. If you think you may have hepatitis C, you can get a blood test. The CDC recommends that you have a bloodtest for hepatitis C if any of the following are true: You received blood from a donor who later was found to have the disease. You have ever injected...

Read the Understanding Hepatitis C -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

  • Never share needles. Intravenous drug users are at greatest risk of becoming infected with hepatitis C because many share needles. In addition to needles, the virus may be present in other equipment used with illicit drugs. Even sharing a straw or dollar bill when snorting cocaine could lead to hepatitis C transmission. Bleeding in the nasal passages frequently occurs when taking cocaine this way, and microscopic droplets may enter the straw and be passed on to the next user, even if they can't be seen.
  • Avoid direct exposure to blood or blood products. If you are a medical worker or health care provider, take precautionary measures to avoid coming into direct contact with blood. Any tools that draw blood in the workplace should be discarded safely or sterilized appropriately to prevent hepatitis C infection.
  • Don't share personal care items. Many items that we use on a daily basis will occasionally be exposed to blood. Often people will cut themselves while shaving, or their gums will bleed while brushing their teeth. Even small amounts of blood can potentially infect someone, so it is important not to share items such as toothbrushes, razors, nail and hair clippers, and scissors. If you are already infected with hepatitis C, make sure you keep your personal items, such as razors and toothbrushes, separate and out of reach from children.
  • Choose tattoo and piercing parlors carefully. Only use a licensed tattoo and piercing artist who follows appropriate sanitary procedures. A new, disposable needle and ink well should be used for each customer. If in doubt, inquire about their disposable products and sanitary procedures before getting a tattoo or piercing.
  • Practice safe sex. It is rare for hepatitis C to be transmitted through sexual intercourse, but there is greater risk of getting hepatitis C if you have a sexually transmitted disease, HIV, or multiple sex partners or if you engage in rough sex.

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