What Won't Transmit Hepatitis and How To Prevent It

There are 170 million cases of hepatitis C worldwide, and nearly 4 million in the United States. Prevention is important, but hepatitis C can't be spread by sharing utensils and cups, or by casual contact.

This means that if you are diagnosed with hepatitis C and don't know how you got it—you can't blame your infection on sharing a fork with someone. Read on about other ways that you can't catch or transmit hepatitis C.

Lesbian couple kissing in the park
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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.

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 it can be prevented by good handwashing practices. 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, contaminated water, and the fruits and vegetables washed with contaminated water.

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). By practicing safe sex and wearing a condom properly, your risk of catching hepatitis C from 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 definite risk of a mother transmitting 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.

2 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.

Additional Reading

By Charles Daniel
 Charles Daniel, MPH, CHES is an infectious disease epidemiologist, specializing in hepatitis.