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What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a virus that you can get from contact with an infected person’s blood. It can be treated with a combination of drugs for six to twelve months.

What are the signs and symptoms?

At first, most people have no symptoms, but those who do can have:

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Liver pain
  • Tea-coloured urine or clay-coloured stools

Many years later, people can experience:

  • Liver disease such as cirrhosis or cancer

How is it spread?

Hepatitis C is spread:

  • By sharing used needles or syringes.
  • By sharing other drug-using equipment such as cookers, cotton, crack cocaine, and water pipes.
  • By sharing straw, bills, or other utensils used for snorting cocaine or other drugs.
  • From receiving a blood transfusion or blood products before 1992.
  • Through needle-stick injuries.
  • From tattooing, piercing, or acupuncture with equipment that may have been improperly sterilized.
  • From sexual activity that includes contact with blood or exchange of blood.
  • If a pregnant woman has Hepatitis C, she can infect her unborn baby.
  • By sharing razors, toothbrushes, tweezers, manicure, or pedicure equipment such as nail clippers.

Here are some ways to prevent Hepatitis C:

  • Do not share needles or other drug equipment.
  • Do not share personal items such as razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers.
  • Wear protective gloves if you’re likely to be in contact with someone’s blood.
  • Use condoms and avoid blood-to-blood contact every time you have sex.
  • If you’re getting a tattoo or piercing, make sure the place has been inspected and they’re using single-use sterile needles and ink.

Where can I be tested?