Protect Yourself From Hepatitis C

Six Ways To Prevent Hepatitis C Infection

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is spread only by direct contact with infected blood. This means that to be exposed to the hepatitis C virus, blood infected with the virus must somehow enter your body. While this can happen in a number of different ways, here are six ways to avoid being exposed to hepatitis C.

Don't Do Intravenous Drugs

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If you use drugs, don't share needles or any equipment. If you use needles for medical care or intravenous drug use of any kind, always use sterile equipment. Since intravenous drug use is associated with half of all new hepatitis C cases, not using dirty needles is the single best way to stop the spread of hepatitis C.

A needle exchange program may be available in your area. These programs offer ways to get sterile syringes and can be an effective resource to help stop the spread of hepatitis C. Also, many of these programs provide additional services, such as referrals to drug treatment centers, counseling, and primary health care. For more information, check with your local department of public health.

Don't Share Toothbrushes

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Toothbrushes could be contaminated with blood. People with open sores in their mouths or bleeding gums (maybe after flossing) could easily get blood on their toothbrushes. While many people wouldn't dream of using someone else's toothbrush, some people have no problem with this! Make a rule for yourself: only use your toothbrush.

Don't Share Razors

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Sharing personal items, such as razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers, have a lower risk of spreading infection than sharing needles. But where there's blood, there's the possibility of spreading hepatitis C. Shaving can often result in nicks to the skin that cause bleeding and can leave trace amounts of blood on a razor. So, bottom line: make sure you use only your own razor and ensure nobody else uses it, too. 

Don't Share Nail Clippers

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This follows the same principle as the razor. It has the potential to infect because it could easily come into contact with blood. There is a small risk for nail clippers. If you're someone who likes to be extra careful, buy your own pair and keep others from sharing it.

Use a Condom

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Generally speaking, one has a very low risk of getting hepatitis C during sex. The risks increase, however, when you have rough sex or have multiple sexual partners. Also, co-infection with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases also increases the risk of infection. So do yourself a favor and wear a condom if you are a man, and insist your partner uses one if you engage in receptive sex.

Use Licensed Tattoo and Piercing Studios

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While getting tattoos and piercings is not necessarily a high-risk activity, it can be if done incorrectly. If the needles or equipment used on you were not properly disinfected and were also used on an infected person, you could be exposed to blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Make sure that the studio is licensed and that sterile needles are used for all body work.