Medically Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on November 25, 2021
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Can I Hide Hep C From My Partner?

You shouldn't keep this to yourself. If you have hepatitis C, you owe it to your partner to let them know you're infected so they can get tested. In some states, you could even face criminal penalties if you knowingly expose someone to the virus without telling them.

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Can It Spread Through Kissing?

Don't be afraid to get romantic with your partner. Hepatitis C doesn't spread through kissing, hugging, or holding hands.

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Can I Have Sex With My Partner?

Yes. If you only have one sexual partner, the odds you'll give hepatitis C to that person are very low. The CDC says monogamous couples don't need to routinely use condoms. Your risk of passing hepatitis C goes up if you have multiple sex partners, have an STD, or are infected with HIV. Hep C is also more likely to spread if you and your partner have rough sex.

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Is Sex During Periods Safe?

It's possible to catch the infection through any contact with an infected person's blood, including the blood from a woman's period. To be safe, couples should avoid intercourse when a woman is menstruating.

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Without Symptoms, Can I Spread Hep C?

Most people who've been infected don't show any symptoms until they've had the virus for many months or years. Though you might feel perfectly fine, the hepatitis C virus is still inside your body. You can infect your partner or other people if you're not careful.

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Can a Vaccine Protect My Partner?

Not yet. There are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B, but researchers are still trying to create one for hepatitis C. Until they succeed, take precautions to avoid passing the virus to your partner.

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Does My Partner Need to Get Tested?

If you've tested positive for hepatitis C, it's a good idea for your partner to also get tested. A simple blood test can show whether they have the infection. If the test is positive, your partner can get treated with antiviral medicines.

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Can I Get Infected Again?

Yes. When you have chickenpox or measles, your body builds immunity. If you're exposed to these viruses in the future, your immune system knows how to fight them off. Hepatitis C is different. If you have contact with the virus again, for example if you share needles when injecting illicit drugs, you can get re-infected. Then you'll have to start treatment all over again.

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Can I Share Razors or Toothbrushes?

Keep personal hygiene items, like razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, and towels, to yourself. An open cut or sore can leave traces of your blood on these items, which could give the infection to your partner or anyone else who uses them.

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Is It Safe to Get Pregnant?

Pregnant women with hepatitis C have about a 1 in 20 chance of passing hepatitis C to their baby. The virus could cause low birth weight and other problems. To be safe, take antiviral drugs before you get pregnant. You can't take them once you're expecting because they could be risky to your baby. If you have an active hepatitis C infection during pregnancy, your baby will be tested at about 18 months.

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Will I Always Be Infected?

You won't need to worry about protecting your partner forever if you get treated. Antiviral drugs can clear the hepatitis C virus from your blood within a few months. Most people who get these treatments are cured.

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SOURCES:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in Pregnancy."

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases/Infectious Diseases Society of America: "HCV in Pregnancy."

American Sexual Health Association: "Hepatitis C."

CDC: "Hepatitis C Questions and Answers for the Public," "Sexual Transmission and Viral Hepatitis."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Hepatitis C."

Hepatitis C Association: "After Being Cured…Can Hep C Return?"

Hepatitis C Support Project: "Sexual Transmission of HCV."

Hepatology: "Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus among monogamous heterosexual couples: The HCV partners study."

Kaiser Health News: "If You've Got Hep C, Spitting Can Be A Felony."

Mayo Clinic: "Hepatitis C," "Hepatitis C: How Common is Sexual Transmission?" "Most patients with HCV cured with new drugs -- but at what price?"

San Francisco AIDS Foundation: "You can get it from sex, and 10 other things to know about hep C."

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine: "Hepatitis C in pregnancy: screening, treatment, and management."

The Hepatitis C Trust: "Razors and Toothbrushes," "Sexual contact."

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: "Hepatitis C."