3D medical illustration of the Hep C virus attacking the liver.
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Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver. When left untreated, it worsens into other conditions like liver cirrhosis and even liver cancer. Unfortunately, many people rarely feel symptoms in its earlier stages, leaving a lot of people unaware that they’ve already been infected. 

Treatment can’t start without knowing that you have this condition. So, just what puts someone at risk of developing hepatitis?…

1. Open Wounds

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Having an open wound makes you prone to infection. In this case, it’s the most direct and fastest way of getting hep C. So it’s a must that these wounds are frequently cleaned, and are covered or bandaged properly.

There’s a reason blood donations undergo rigorous testing…

2. Blood Transfusions

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Getting a transfusion with an infected person’s blood is also another sure way of getting hepatitis C (or any other disease). Thankfully, it’s mandatory to screen and test blood before it is transfused, so incidences like this are low nowadays.

This also applies for our next factor…

3. Organ Transplant

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Organ transplants, like blood donations, indeed save many lives. But there are times that it can put the organ recipient at greater harm, especially if the donors are afflicted with conditions like hepatitis C. Fortunately, donors are likewise screened to avoid possible infections.

Sometimes it’s just best to avoid pointy things altogether…

4. Use of Infected Needles

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People who inject drugs have an increased chance of spreading and contracting hepatitis C if they reuse or share needles and syringes. Syringes with  removable needles are particularly more dangerous since traces of blood can remain there.

The following risk factor is more common than you think…

5. Unprotected Sex

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Doing the deed without rubbers doesn’t just put you at risk for STDs like chlamydia, but for hepatitis C as well. Activities like anal sex or having sex during menstruation can expose you to infection since bleeding may occur. So it’s important to keep yourselves protected at all costs: always use proper protection for each and every sex act (including oral sex) and do not reuse condoms.

Our next factor actually proves that it’s okay to be a little selfish at times…

6. Sharing Personal Care Items

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Personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers can retain blood. Therefore, sharing them with others could put either of you at risk of acquiring the hep C virus, especially if they are shared frequently.

Speaking of retained blood, the next cause stresses the importance of sanitizing…

7. Unsterile Tattooing and Piercing

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You may want to think twice where you’re going to get tatted or receive that septum piercing. Unsanitary equipment, especially if it had been used prior on an infected person, can transmit infections like HIV and hepatitis C. 

Sometimes, hep C is transmitted in ways that don’t involve infected needles or open wounds…

8. Birth

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If a pregnant mother has hepatitis C, chances are high that her baby will be born with it, too. In fact, 1 in 20 babies are said to be born in this way. While seeking treatment for hepatitis C while pregnant is not recommendable (as these can cause birth defects), doctors recommend that babies be tested after they’ve turned at least 18 months old. 

Precaution is key

While there is no vaccine for hepatitis C in sight yet, the best thing one can do is take preventive measures on their own. Simple things like practicing safe sex or abstinence, avoiding injectable drugs (or drugs altogether), and observing cleanliness can help you protect yourself from increased risk of infection. 

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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