Hepatitis C

Transmission: hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact. The most common modes of infection include unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilisation of medical equipment and unscreened blood and blood products. It can also be transmitted through certain sexual practises where blood is involved. Whether it can be transmitted sexually without the presence of blood remains unclear. If it does happen it appears to be extremely rare although the risk may be increased by the presence of other sexually transmitted infections.

Prevention: currently there is no vaccination for hepatitis C. To reduce risk of exposure, it is therefore necessary to avoid sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. You should also avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Treatment: treatment can cure hepatitis C infection. Until recently treatment hs involved a combination of interferon, generally pegylated, long-lasting interferon, and ribavirin but there is increasing use of potent direct acting antiviral drugs. People with different hepatitis C genotypes respond differently to treatment, some more successfully than others but the differences between the genotypes is disappearing as cure rates with the new drugs approach 100%.