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Prevention

In order for hepatitis C to be transmitted there must be blood to blood contact. This means that the blood from someone with hepatitis C would have to get into the bloodstream (cut or open wound) of someone else.

People with hepatitis C often worry about giving it to others that they live with. However, it would be very hard to transmit HCV unless there is direct blood-to-blood contact. Things like razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers and other personal hygiene items can spread HCV, but it is difficult to do so.

For example, in order for someone to get HCV from a toothbrush there would have to be blood from someone who has HCV on the toothbrush, then someone would have to take that same toothbrush and brush their teeth. Next there would have to be an open cut or wound in the mouth for the HCV infected blood to get into the bloodstream.

Things to consider are:

  • Anything that has cut you
  • Anything that you drip blood on or has soaked up your blood
  • Anything that you have inserted through your skin into your body

In general you need to be aware that if you are infected with hepatitis C a tiny drop of your blood could infect someone else if it gets into their body. So it's obviously better to take precautions and this section examines ways to be really safe.

However, it is far from clear that all these precautions are strictly necessary but it's important to be careful rather than paranoid about the risk of infecting others.

You may also feel you would like to warn people so that they can take extra precautions. This would include:

  • Phlebotomists (nurses who take your blood), who would be at risk if they accidentally prick themselves
  • Tattooists
  • Body/ear piercers
  • Acupuncturists, who might transfer the virus to someone else if they have not taken adequate precautions
  • Dentists

Even though the risk is very low it is still important to be careful to make sure that others in the house are protected. Cover all toothbrushes, razor blades, nail clippers or any item that might have blood on it – even if you can’t see it.

Keep all personal hygiene items away from other people’s hygiene items.

Remember

HCV is not spread by casual contact such as hugging, sharing eating utensils, food or water.