Why can overseas medical treatment be a hep C risk?
Hepatitis C is a virus spread by blood-to-blood contact. An injury or illness that requires medical or dental treatment (e.g. injection, IV drip, transfusion) could result in hepatitis C infection if the blood supply is not properly screened and/or the equipment is not disinfected or sanitised.
What can I do to prevent hepatitis C while travelling overseas?
Here are a few useful tips when travelling overseas:
- Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture. If you do get any of these in another country make sure the equipment used is sterile.
- Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
- If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sterilised.
How do I know if I have hepatitis C?
The symptoms associated with hepatitis C infection may be different for everyone. Some people will notice symptoms just two weeks after becoming infected, while others may experience them six months later. In some cases, people can live with hep C for 20 to 30 years before they experience any symptoms at all.
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.