Liver Hepatitis C Prevention

Hepatitis C is transmitted via contact with infected blood. To prevent hepatitis C and related complications, take caution when engaging in activities that may expose you to contaminated blood.

Avoid Intravenous (IV) Drug Use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports IV drug use as a factor in 48 percent of new cases of hepatitis C in 2007, making it the most common risk factor (2009). Most often, these intravenous drugs are illegal substances, such as opiates and amphetamines. If you use a needle containing someone else’s contaminated blood, you may contract the hepatitis C virus.

IV drugs are extremely dangerous. Quitting–including enrolling in a rehabilitation program–can reduce your risk of overdose and aid in prevention of hepatitis C. However, if you do take IV drugs, always using a clean needle may help you prevent hepatitis C; you can never be sure who’s infected with a blood-borne disease.

Hepatitis C Prevention: Tattoo and Piercing Safety

Tattoos are applied to the skin with a needle. Each time the needle pierces your skin, it deposits a drop of ink and may pick up traces of blood. Piercing needles also come in contact with blood, which can remain on an unsterilized needle. If you are tattooed or pierced with instruments that contain traces of blood contaminated with hepatitis C, infection can result. Despite a low level of transmission risk, reputable artists will always take measures to prevent hepatitis C.

Ask your tattoo or body piercing artist questions like:

  • Do you sterilize your reusable equipment?
  • Do you use new disposable equipment for each customer?
  • Do you wear gloves while tattooing or piercing?
  • What kind of training and experience do your employees have?

Hepatitis C Prevention: Advice for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers, including nurses and emergency medical technicians, may come in contact with patients infected with hepatitis C. Even if the risk of contact is low, wear gloves to protect yourself and others from disease transmission.

Healthcare workers should always follow safety protocols, particularly when handling needles or other equipment that comes in contact with patients’ blood. Accidental needle sticks or other injuries that puncture the skin can lead to hepatitis C infection.

Healthcare workers must promote hepatitis C prevention for their patients’ sake, too. Hepatitis C can spread between patients through exposure to contaminated blood. Properly sanitizing reusable instruments will remove traces of infected blood, which can aid hepatitis C prevention efforts.

Prevention of Hepatitis C: Safe Sex

Hepatitis C can be transmitted sexually, although this risk may be higher for men who have sexual intercourse with other men, as well as individuals with multiple sex partners. Using condoms can help play a major role in the prevention of hepatitis C.

Resources

Avert: Averting HIV and AIDS. (2010). Injecting drugs, drug users, HIV and AIDS. Retrieved September 28, 2010, from http://www.avert.org/injecting.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Hepatitis C FAQs for health professionals. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HCV/HCVfaq.htm#section2.

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Hepatitis C. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c/DS00097.