What Won't Transmit Hepatitis and How To Prevent It

There is lots of talk about how to prevent exposure to hepatitis C and with good reason. There are 170 million cases worldwide and nearly 4 million in the United States. But, you can do a lot without worrying about being exposed to hepatitis C virus. Here are a few activities where you can't catch hepatitis C.

Lesbian couple kissing in the park
Kevin Kozicki / Getty Images

Sharing a Fork, Spoon, and Glass

You're at a restaurant and someone at your table offers a taste of their delicious cheesecake. Should you politely pass? Well, not if you're worried about catching hepatitis C. Go ahead and taste that dessert because sharing eating utensils doesn't spread the virus. Also, have a sip of their water, too. Remember, spreading hepatitis C requires direct contact with infected blood, not saliva.

Giving (and Getting) a Kiss

Kissing isn't a known way to spread hepatitis C virus. This is because saliva isn't an effective way to spread the virus. While some sources suggest otherwise, kissing isn't high-risk for hepatitis C.

Hugging a Friend

Casual contact is not a high-risk way to spread hepatitis C because you don't come into direct contact with infected blood. So never let fear of hepatitis C keep you from hugging a friend. This goes for all types of casual contact: It's all low-risk.

Holding Hands

Hepatitis A is frequently spread through hand to hand contact and is prevented by good handwashing practice. However, hepatitis C isn't spread this way. So, go ahead and take that long walk, hand in hand.

Being Around Someone Coughing and Sneezing

Being close by while someone is coughing and sneezing may give you a cold or other respiratory diseases, but it won't give you hepatitis C. This is because coughing and sneezing don't have direct blood to blood contact. Getting coughed or sneezed on is gross, but it won't give you hepatitis C.

Eating Food and Water

Some hepatitis viruses are spread through food and water, but not hepatitis C. Hepatitis A is notorious for spreading through shellfish, dirty water and the fruits and vegetables washed with it.

Practicing Safe Sex

Hepatitis C can be spread through sexual contact, especially rough sex (when the vagina or anal mucosa is at risk of being cut or scratched), but this is a very low risk. By practicing safer sex and wearing a condom properly, the risk of catching hepatitis C from the sexual activity should be very low.

Taking a Nature Walk

Some people think since mosquitoes can transmit malaria and yellow fever, they could probably spread HIV and hepatitis C. But mosquitoes can't spread blood-borne diseases. So go ahead and take that nature walk.

Nursing a Baby

While there is a very slight risk of spreading hepatitis C to the baby during pregnancy, breastfeeding does not spread hepatitis C. However, you should hold off when you have cracked or bleeding nipples.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Petruzziello A, Marigliano S, Loquercio G, Cozzolino A, Cacciapuoti C. Global epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection: An up-date of the distribution and circulation of hepatitis C virus genotypesWorld J Gastroenterol. 2016;22(34):7824–7840. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i34.7824

  2. World Health Organization. Hepatitis C. Updated July 9, 2019.

Additional Reading
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 20, 2008. Viral Hepatitis.
Related Articles