Prevention of Hepatitis C Virus Infection

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread only by direct contact with blood that contains the virus. There are ways to prevent yourself from becoming infected

Do Not Inject Drugs or Share Needles

Drug Use

Intravenous (IV) drug use or injecting drugs in any way, is the leading single cause of the spread of HCV. To protect yourself, avoiding the use of ​used needles is the single best way to stop the spread of HCV.

It is difficult to abruptly stop using addictive drugs. If you are addicted to illegal drugs, a needle exchange program may be available in your area. These programs offer ways to get sterile syringes and many of these programs provide additional services, such as referrals to drug treatment centers, counseling, and primary health care. For more information, check with your local department of public health.

Medical Use

If you use needles for medical care, always use sterile equipment and do not share needles for any reason.

Avoid Unprotected Sex

The risks of becoming infected with HCV from an infected sexual partner increases if you have contact with blood, have unprotected sex, or have multiple sexual partners. Co-infection with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases also increases the risk of infection. Wearing a condom or insisting that your partner uses a condom is an effective method of avoiding transmission of HCV. 

Use Licensed Tattoo, Piercing and Acupuncture Studios

Tattoos and piercings can be the source of HCV infection if a contaminated needle is used. If the needles or equipment used on your body are not properly sterilized, you could be exposed to blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. 

Acupuncture, fillers, cosmetic injections and other therapeutic procedures can also be sources of HCV transmission. Make sure that any facility you use is licensed and that sterile needles are used for all bodywork.

Do Not Share Razors

Sharing razors are not as high risk as sharing needles when it comes to HCV infection. However, if these items have blood on them, there is a possibility of spreading HCV. Shaving often results in nicks to the skin that cause bleeding and can leave trace amounts of blood on a razor. Make sure you use only your own razor and ensure nobody else uses it. 

Do Not Share Nail Clippers

Although there is a small risk of becoming infected with HCV from nail clippers, they have the potential to spread HCV because they may come into contact with blood.  

Do Not Share Toothbrushes

Toothbrushes are often contaminated with blood. People with open sores in their mouths or bleeding gums can easily get blood on their toothbrushes.

There is a test that can identify the presence of HCV antibodies (immune-fighting proteins) in the saliva, but generally, HCV is not believed to be spread by saliva.

There Is No Available Vaccination for HCV

So far, there is no vaccine that you or your child can take to ​protect against HCV. There are many strains of the virus and they mutate (change genetic characteristics) rapidly. This makes it difficult to identify a particular virus for which a vaccine could be developed. 

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