Is Hepatitis C a Bloodborne Pathogen?
The HCV is a bloodborne pathogen. It means that if a person is exposed to blood from an infectious person, they can spread the disease.
In fact, chronic hepatitis C is the
Hepatitis C causes inflammation in your liver, but sometimes doesn’t present other symptoms for months or even years. Many people who have hepatitis C are unaware that they have it, meaning they can unknowingly spread the virus to others. If you have untreated hepatitis C, your infection can progress from acute to chronic.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, although there are vaccines for hepatitis A and B. Treatment with antiviral medication can help your body clear the infection and prevent long-term complications.
We know a lot about the spread and prevention of the disease.
The only way to spread a bloodborne pathogen like the hepatitis C is through contact with blood. Acute or chronic infections of the disease are infectious.
There is an overview of how the disease can be transmitted.
IV drug use
Intravenous (IV) drug use is a
Even if a person is not showing symptoms of the disease, needles and syringes can still be contaminated with the virus. Some of the blood from someone who has the virus and injects a drug stays in the needle. When a person uses the same needle, they are sending blood to each other.
People who inject drugs, including heroin, should be tested for bloodborne viruses.
Another virus commonly spread through IV drug use is HIV.
Addressing IV drug use and hepatitis C spread
If you want to prevent IV drug use from causing the transmission of the hepatitis, stop injecting or cease doing so.
If you are living with a substance use disorder, know that you’re not alone and help is available. Visit SAMHSA’s treatment locater page to find resources and support options in your area.
Many states also have clinics or stations that provide clean, new needles and syringes. These
Blood transfusions and medical equipment
When researchers first detected hepatitis C, blood transfusions were a
But these days, with advancements in technology and medical hygiene, getting a blood transfusion very rarely results in spreading hepatitis C. Advanced screening methods for blood transfusions have brought the chances of acquiring hepatitis down to
People who have tested positive for hepatitis B or C at any point in their lives are also now restricted from donating blood as an extra precaution.
Sex without protection
Hepatitis C is not often spread through sexual contact, but it can happen. Certain
- Sex during menstruation.
- Anal sex.
- Having multiple sex partners.
- Sex with people who use drugs.
“People who are pregnant can pass the disease to their fetus. This doesn’t happen often.”
Learn more about testing for hepatitis C.
Unsafe tattoo and piercing practices
“If you get a tattoo or piercing at a place that isn’t regulated, you can be at risk for diseases like hepatitis C.”
Make sure you see a professional who is licensed when you are looking for a piercing or tattoo. Artists in states that do not require licensing still need to register with an enforcement agency to ensure they are following proper safety and hygiene practices.
There are no noticeable signs of the disease. Symptoms may not appear until the infection becomes chronic.
If you develop symptoms of acute hepatitis C, some or all of these symptoms may appear
Symptoms of an acute hepatitis C infection can be seen.
- There is a yellow urine.
- There is abdominal pain.
- nausea and/or vomiting
- Joint pain.
- yellowed eyes due to jaundice
- The movements of the bowels are colored.
Symptoms of chronic hepatitis C may not appear until you have had the infection for some time.
Chronic hepatitis C is linked to serious, long-term health complications, such as liver cirrhosis.
Other symptoms may include:
- unexplained weight loss
- Weakness in the muscles.
- There are signs of jaundice, which is yellowing of your eyes or skin.
Some people who have hepatitis C may naturally clear the infection with their immune system without treatment. This is called a “self-limiting” infection, but it’s not a guarantee, and only happens for
If left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and even liver cancer. That’s why treatment is recommended for anyone who gets the virus.
Direct-acting antiviral medications are available to treat hepatitis C. Antivirals aim to slow or stop the virus from multiplying, giving your immune system time to respond. This treatment typically consists of 8-12 weeks of taking medicine in an oral tablet form. These treatments work for
While you are taking medication for the disease, your doctor will likely advise you to rest and make sure your body is free of the disease.
The importance of timely treatment
The introduction of drugs that can cure the virus has been a game-changer.
Taking care of your treatment regimen is important to managing a hepatitis C infection. Follow up appointments are always a good idea, and you should always take your medication.
There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, you can get vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Prevention strategies include:
- Knowing your risk factors.
- Understanding how the disease is spread.
- Avoid situations where you could be exposed to blood from a person with the disease.
- If using IV drugs, clean equipment or stop drug use.
- practicing safe sex.
“You can get the disease more than once. You can still contract the virus even after you have had it successfully treated. You can’t assume you’re immune to the whole virus.”
Screening can also help limit the spread of hepatitis C. The CDC recommends regular hepatitis C testing for people who are considered at
IV drug use is a common route of transmission of the disease. It can be spread by other activities that involve blood contact, such as tattooing and piercing equipment.
Many people who have hepatitis C don’t have symptoms and are unaware they have the virus. This is why Knowing your risk factors., how the virus spreads, and getting hepatitis screenings are important. If you believe you have symptoms of hepatitis C, or test positive for the virus, it’s important to seek treatment right away.
The fast-acting antiviral medication can help you deal with a hepatitis C infection and decrease your risk of serious consequences. We can work together to get transmission rates down.