Hepatitis C Prevention & Risks

Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, June 12, 2017

How is hepatitis C spread?

The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with contaminated blood. This can happen when sharing needles with someone who has the virus and less often, during sexual contact. Hepatitis C can also be transmitted through contact with a used razor or other sharp instruments.

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What are the complications from untreated hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C becomes chronic when the body can't get rid of the virus. About 75 percent of patients with acute hepatitis C ultimately develop chronic infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to liver problems, such as cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. Chronic hepatitis C can also lead to liver cancer or complete liver failure. Symptoms of cirrhosis include yellowing of the skin and eyes, swollen stomach, fatigue, nausea, weight loss, and loss of liver function.

How can I protect myself from contracting hepatitis C?

  • Don't share razors, toothbrushes, piercings with anyone
  • Use condoms if you have multiple sex partners
  • Always wear gloves when coming in contact with spilled blood
  • Make sure that any needles are properly sterilized

Can a person infect someone with hepatitis C and not know it?

Yes. Many people with chronic hepatitis C are unaware that they're infected since they don't feel sick.

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C?

No, at this time there is not a vaccine for Hepatitis C. There are, however, vaccines for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. If you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis B or are not sure if you have, visit a health care provider.

Can I get hepatitis C from insect bites or mosquitoes?

No. There are also no known cases worldwide of Hepatitis C spreading through mosquitoes.

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