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.
With an average healthy lifestyle, the opportunities for blood-to-blood contact are rare. However, it is important to get a test for Hepatitis C if you are at risk of having been exposed to the virus. This includes anyone who:
- has snorted or injected drugs in the past (including anabolic steroids), or shared drug injecting equipment, even if only once.
- has received blood products including organ or tissue transplants in the UK before 1992
- 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 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 injuring)
- has had tattoos, piercings, acupuncture or electrolysis in conditions where infection control may be poor
- is the child of a mother with Hepatitis C.