Hepatitis C is a virus that is passed on through blood-to-blood contact. You can contract hepatitis C if the blood of an infected person gets into your bloodstream. Occasionally the virus may be passed on through infected bodily fluids, however this is very rare.
The opportunities for blood-to-blood contact are relatively rare, but it is important to get a test for hepatitis C if you think you have been at risk. This includes anyone who:
- has snorted or injected drugs in the past, or shared drug injecting equipment, even if only once.
- has shared injecting equipment for image or performance enhancing drugs (e.g. botox, anabolic steroids)
- has had a blood transfusion in the UK before September 1991
- has ever received medical or dental treatment in countries where infection control may be poor
- has been exposed to blood through close household contact with someone who has hepatitis C (shared toothbrushes/razors etc)
- is a regular sexual partner of someone with hepatitis C
- has been accidentally exposed to blood where there is a risk of transmission of hepatitis (eg healthcare worker with a needlestick injury)
- has had tattoos, piercings, acupuncture or electrolysis in conditions where infection control may be poor
- is the child of a mother with hepatitis C
If you believe you have been at risk, you can talk to us about hepatitis C testing and the different options available.