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 Exchange 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.
Consistent and correct use of the male latex condom reduces the risk of STDs and HIV transmission. Free condoms are available at all 12 Health Department locations across Vermont.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) sites offer free condoms.
Here are additional sites where you will find a wide variety of free condoms and lube. These sites are listed alphabetically by town/city.
More information on condoms and other information on preventing HIV and STDs
Sterile syringes are available at pharmacies throughout Vermont without a prescription, although individual pharmacists may choose not to sell them. Syringe Service Programs make free syringes available in several communities around Vermont. Possession of syringes on the part of Syringe Service Program clients is not in violation of our state’s paraphernalia law. See below for location and contact information.
AIDS Project of Southern Vermont
HowardCenter Safe Recovery / Green Mountain Needle Co-op
HIV/HCV Resource Center
Vermont Operating Guidelines for Organized Community-based Safer Injection Support Programs
Vermont statutes related to Syringe Exchange Programs: