Hepatitis C (HCV) is primarily transmitted through exposure to the blood of an infected person, although it is sometimes transmitted through sexual contact.
Sharing needles or syringes, sharing personal items such as razors, toothbrushes, etc. as well as getting tattoos or piercings outside a professional and licensed setting are all ways that HCV can be passed from one person to another. While sexual transmission is rare, that risk is increased for those who have multiple sex partners, have a sexually transmitted disease, engage in rough sex, or are infected with HIV.
Most people who have HCV are unaware that they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick, but they can still transmit the virus to others. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. Practicing the following can prevent HCV infection:
- Never share needles, syringes and other injection drug use equipment for any reason, and dispose of used sharps properly.
- Get clean syringes and syringe disposal services through Vermont’s Syringe Services Programs.
- Do not share personal items (razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes).
- If you are pregnant, get tested for HCV infection before your baby is born.
- If you are a health care or public safety worker, always practice universal precautions in healthcare settings.
- Make sure all tattoos and piercings are performed by licensed professionals.
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B.
- If you have more than one sexual partner, or have a sexual partner that is infected with HCV, use latex condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.