Hep C is a virus that is spread by blood to blood contact
The hepatitis C virus is very infectious and can easily spread when a person comes into contact with surfaces, equipment, or objects that are contaminated with infected blood, even in amounts too small to see. The virus can survive on dry surfaces and equipment for up to 6 weeks.
People who inject drugs can get hep C from:
Needles & Syringes:
Sharing or reusing needles and syringes increases the chance of spreading hep C. Syringes with detachable needles increase this risk even more because they can retain more blood after they are used than syringes with fixed-needles.
Any equipment, such as cookers, cottons, water, ties, and alcohol swabs, can easily become contaminated during the drug preparation process.
Fingers that come into contact with infected blood can spread hep C. Blood on fingers and hands can contaminate the injection site, cottons, cookers, ties, and swabs.
Hep C can spread when blood from an infected person contaminates a surface and then that surface is reused by another person to prepare injection equipment.
Should I get tested?
The only way to know if you have hepatitis C is to get tested. A hep C test can be arranged during a regular visit with a healthcare professional or at a clinic.
In most cases, a healthcare professional will take a small amount of blood to see if you have been exposed to the hep C virus at some point in your life. It may not mean that you currently have hep C. If this test is positive, a second blood test is done to find out if you have the hep C infection right now.
Getting diagnosed early can prevent liver and health problems that may be caused by the virus as well as keeping it from spreading to someone else by blood contact.
If you think you should be tested, see your healthcare professional so you can know for sure.
Hep C can be treated
A new hep C infection does not always require treatment and some people can clear the infection within the first 6 months. If the new infection persists beyond this point, it is considered chronic and requires treatment.
With treatment, hep C can be cured*.
*Cure means that the hep C virus is not found in the blood 3 months after the end of treatment.
A healthcare professional will be able to advise if treatment is required.