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Ways of getting hepatitis C 

Hepatitis C is mainly spread through direct contact with the blood of an infected person. Watch our video to find out more:

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Sharing drug-taking equipment

Currently, the greatest risk of infection in this country is through sharing equipment for injecting drugs. If you've ever shared equipment for injecting drugs, even if you only did it once or twice, or a long time ago, you could be at risk of hepatitis C.

Blood transfusions and blood products

If you received a blood transfusion before September 1991 or blood products before 1986 in the UK, you may be at risk of infection. Today, all blood and blood products are screened for the virus.

Improved financial support has recently been announced for those who acquired hepatitis C infection from NHS-supplied blood or blood products before safety measures were in place. For more information, see Financial support.

Less common ways the virus is passed on:

  • From infected mother to baby, before or during birth
  • Through unprotected sex with someone who has the virus
  • By medical and dental treatment abroad, where unsterile equipment may have been used
  • By tattooing, ear or body piercing, acupuncture, electrolysis and semi-permanent make-up where unsterile equipment may have been used
  • By sharing razors or toothbrushes that may have been contaminated with blood from someone who is infected

'Non-A, non-B' hepatitis

Hepatitis C was only discovered in 1989, so some people who have hepatitis C may have been given a diagnosis of non-A, non-B hepatitis before then.

If you have been diagnosed with non-A, non-B hepatitis you should get tested for hepatitis C, if you haven’t already been.

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