Proactive Steps to Keep You Safe from Hepatitis C

For many, the risk of contracting viral infections is a concern. Proactive steps can help keep you safe from hepatitis C and other blood-borne viral infections.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that lives in the blood. The virus initially attacks the liver, causing inflammation that can lead to scarring and compromised liver function. If left untreated, hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage (cirrhosis), leading to a high risk for liver cancer and liver failure.

Reduce your risks

Hepatitis C spreads via blood-to-blood transmission. Good hygiene practices help prevent the spread of hepatitis C and other viral infections. For example:

  • Always wear a bandage if you have a cut or sore. Cleaning and protecting open wounds help prevent infections of many types.
  • If you are helping someone dress a wound, wear latex gloves for protection.
  • Use good hygiene practice. Never share razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers.
  • Practice safe sex. Talk to your doctor about testing if you have had more than one sexual partner.
  • Never use unsterilized equipment in tattoos or body piercing.
  • Never use re-used needles or any devices used with injecting or inhaling drugs of any type.
  • If you work in a medical facility or field and had a needle stick or exposure to hepatitis C-infected blood, clean the area. Seek testing and guidance from your doctor.

Dried blood can still be infectious. Hepatitis C can live on surfaces outside the body for several weeks. The CDC recommends clean surfaces with a bleach solution of one-part bleach to 9 parts water. Make sure to wear gloves when cleaning areas with dried blood.1

You cannot contract hepatitis C from:

  • Casual contact
  • Shaking or holding hands, hugging, or kissing
  • Exposure to tears or salvia
  • Eating food prepared by someone with hepatitis C

Seek testing and treatment

Get tested for hepatitis C. Never assume you don’t have hepatitis C or another viral infection even if you don’t show symptoms. Hepatitis C is known as the silent disease due to symptoms that often do not show up for years, even while the virus is damaging your liver. Testing for hepatitis C is not typically a routine part of annual blood work from your primary doctor.

If you have hepatitis C or another viral infection, practice good safety measures listed above. Seek care with a liver specialist like a hepatologist, gastroenterologist or infectious disease doctor. Seek treatment right away to avoid further liver damage.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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