How is hep C spread by injecting drugs?

All equipment used to prepare and inject drugs can spread hep C when contaminated and shared.

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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.

Preparation Equipment:
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.

The only way to know if you have Hep C is to get tested

Should I get tested?

Hep C if left untreated can cause serious liver damage over many years.

If you have ever injected drugs, even once, you should get tested for Hep C. If you are currently injecting, talk to your doctor about how often you should be tested.

It’s common for people not to have any symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they can be mild and vague, including extreme tiredness, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea or abdominal pain.

Modern treatments are now available that are well tolerated, simple to take and can cure the virus in almost everyone living with Hep C.

You are considered cured when no hepatitis C virus is found in a blood test taken 3 months after treatment has finished.

As with all treatments there may be side effects. Your Doctor will advise what’s best for you.

After successful treatment many of these symptoms can disappear.

Successful treatment will also prevent transmission of hepatitis C to others.

Go to our symptoms checklist to learn more.


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