Is everyone around me now at risk?
The hepatitis C infection can only occur if the blood of an infected person is able to enter another person’s body. It is the blood that is infectious, not the person. The virus cannot be transmitted by touching, kissing, hugging or by sharing cutlery.
Am I sexually infectious?
The risk of sexual transmission is debated, but it is generally accepted as being very low – much lower than many other identified transmission routes for hepatitis C.
Choices about sexual behaviour are personal and some couples decide that such a low risk is acceptable and continue to have unprotected sex. Other couples, however, decide to use protection.
Unprotected sexual intercourse could be a risk but the likelihood of transmitting the virus without any blood contact is considered very small.
The risk of sexual transmission is increased if blood is present, if you have multiple sexual partners, or if you have other sexually transmitted infections.
In addition, the risk of sexual transmission is increased if the person also has HIV.
Can I transmit hepatitis C in other ways?
Sharing things such as razor blades, nail scissors, toothbrushes and hair clippers poses a risk. If your blood gets onto one of these things, someone else using them might become infected if they also cut themselves.
This could also apply to sharing towels if your blood got onto a towel that was later used by someone else with an open wound.
It seems that HCV can live outside the body in dried blood for varying levels of time. This can vary between sixteen hours to four days.
It is also possible for HCV to be transmitted from mother to child. New figures suggest that the risk is thought to be approximately 8/9%, but it is higher in women who are co-infected with HIV. If you are pregnant or planning to have a child and are hepatitis C positive, it is important to discuss this with your consultant.