What is Hep C?
Hep C is a contagious infection of the liver caused by a virus. In some people, the virus can pose serious health risks, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hep C is transmitted through contact with blood. You can get it through sharing needles or other equipment for drugs, hormones, or steroids. You may also be at risk if you share items such as snorting straws, toothbrushes, or razors that have come in contact with the virus.
Hep C may also be passed through sexual contact, although this is less common. Other factors that may increase the risk of getting Hep C include having HIV or other STDs, engaging in rough sex, and having sex with multiple partners.
What are the symptoms?
Some people who get Hep C may feel sick within three months of becoming infected, while others may not develop symptoms for decades. Common symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, and yellowing of the eyes or skin. Even if a person with Hep C doesn’t feel sick or show symptoms, they can pass the virus to others.
The Hep C virus may eventually go away on its own, yet for most people the virus becomes a chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis or other serious conditions. Luckily, new medications can cure Hep C in as little as eight weeks!
When Hep C goes away—either on its own or through treatment—the virus can no longer be passed. But curing the virus will not make someone immune to it. If that person comes in contact with Hep C again, they can become re-infected.
How do I get tested for Hep C?
A simple blood test can detect Hep C. Talk to your doctor about testing for Hep C.
How do I prevent Hep C?
Unlike Hep A and Hep B, there is no vaccine for Hep C.
Sharing needles is currently the leading cause of Hep C transmission. If you inject drugs, steroids, or hormones, make sure to use a new syringe each time. Hep C may also be spread through shared straws for coke, meth, or other drugs, so avoid sharing those items as well.
If you plan to have anal sex, use condoms and plenty of lube to prevent getting or passing the virus, as well as other STDs.
Planning on getting a tattoo, body piercing, or acupuncture? Be sure you’re dealing with a reputable artist or provider who uses new ink vials and properly sterilizes their instruments.