Is Hepatitis C Contagious?

Is Hepatitis C Contagious?

Most people know about hepatitis C, however, a question that lingers in the mind of many is whether it is contagious. This article unravels the answer to your question.
Hepatitis C is a viral disease which is caused due to the presence of the RNA virus 'Hepatitis C' in the blood. Just like the other hepatitis disease, hepatitis C is also connected with the inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) can be classified into six types, known as genotypes. Among the six genotypes, it is observed that genotype 1 is the most common type of virus that causes hepatitis C in human beings. An affected person can either have acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C. Usually, people who have the acute type do not experience any symptoms, and are fully cured after a few weeks. However, those who have chronic hepatitis C have to live with it for their entire life, and are at a high risk of developing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The symptoms are more prominent in people who have the chronic type.
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Pain and tenderness in the area of the liver
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low-grade fever
  • Jaundice
How Contagious is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a contagious disease, where the virus is transmitted to a person through the blood. Prior to 1992, blood that was donated was not checked for the hepatitis C virus. Thus, people who received blood before 1992 have high chances of suffering from this disease. However, as donated blood is checked carefully these days, the risk of getting the condition through blood transmissions or transfusions has become almost negligible. Nevertheless, health care professionals and people who work in laboratories can acquire this disease through accidental exposure to the infected blood.

Apart from this, even drug addicts who share needles are at a high risk. Indulging in body piercing and tattooing with the help of unhygienic and used needles or instruments can also increase the risk. Sharing personal items like razors, toothbrushes, etc., can lead to the transmission of this virus to others.

Many people think that the hepatitis C virus can be spread by having sex with an infected partner. Though this is possible, this belief is not completely true. It has been observed that only people who indulge in sex with multiple partners are prone to be affected by hepatitis C. On the other hand, people who stay faithful to a single partner having this virus have very minute chances of getting diagnosed with the condition. It is also very rare for the virus to spread through hugging, kissing, touching, coughing, sharing utensils, etc.

Duration of Contagiousness
A person who is affected by hepatitis C virus is said to be contagious even before he/she starts showing any symptoms. Moreover, once a person has this disease, he/she is said to carry the virus for a lifetime. This is not only applicable in the case of chronic hepatitis C, but is also applicable for people who are suffering from the acute. Individuals who have hepatitis C should avoid donating blood even after recovering, to avoid spreading of the disease.

Though hepatitis C is said to be the most dangerous among the three types of hepatitis diseases, it is possible to cure a person with the help of proper treatment. It is important for the physician to know about the type of hepatitis C virus, and how much the virus has spread in the body, to determine the correct treatment. Peginterferon and Ribavirin are two drugs that are given to patients. Moreover, infected patients are required to take extra care of their liver in order to protect it from scarring. In extreme cases, patients may also have to undergo a liver transplant; however, the surgery does not ensure that the virus would be eradicated from the body.

One must remember that hepatitis C is a dangerous disease, which, if not given proper treatment, can prove fatal. Moreover, as there is no vaccine to protect a person from this disease, it is really important to control the spread of this disease by taking appropriate precautions.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.