Who Should Be Tested for Hepatitis C?
As a hepatitis C advocate, I feel like everyone with blood should be tested for hepatitis C, just to be sure. But there are certain groups that have higher risks than others.
So, who should be tested?
- Were born between 1945 and 1965 (Baby Boomers)
- Born to a mom with hepatitis C
- Current or former drug users who used needles. Even once. Even years ago.
- Sex partners of people with hepatitis C or people with many sex partners
- Had hemodialysis
- Been in prison
- First responders who serve people who are bleeding
- Anyone who has shared a straw, dollar bill or the like, to snort drugs
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992
- Received a blood clotting factor before 1987
- Received a vaccine from a Ped-O-Jet or other Air Gun, especially in the military or school
- Healthcare workers who have contact with blood or body fluids
- Have HIV
- Had a tattoo in an unsterile place
- Had a pedicure or manicure or permanent makeup tattoo in an unsterile environment
- Have evidence of liver disease, such as abnormal liver tests
- Engaged in rough or bloody sex
What else should I know?
The test for hepatitis C is a simple blood test. If your test is positive for hepatitis C antibodies, you will need follow-up testing. Keep in mind that hepatitis C testing is not routine and will not show up in standard blood tests. If you don't specifically ask your Doctor for a hep C test you likely won't get one.
Please remember that there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, hep A and hep B have vaccines, but not hepatitis C.
Finally, although this is a pretty thorough list, keep in mind that a large number of people with hepatitis C had no apparent risky behaviors or risk factors. So not every risk is listed. The liver is a non-complaining organ, so even if you don't have an apparent risk factor and you don't have any symptoms you should be tested to be sure.
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