How Can a Person Catch Hepatitis C?

By Debra Bacon ; Updated July 27, 2017


Hepatitis C (HCV) is a viral infection affecting the liver and millions of people in America. A person can catch HCV when blood from an infected person is transmitted to noninfected person. Prior to 1982 donated blood and blood already in blood banks was not being tested for infectious diseases, such as HCV, as it is today. Therefore, people who received blood transfusions or organ transplants prior to 1982 may have contracted HCV as a result. Because all blood is now being tested for infectious disease when donated, the risk of contracting HCV through blood transfusion is very rare, if nonexistent. All in all, Hepatitis C is not easy to catch and can easily be prevented by taking precaution when coming into contact with blood.

Most Common HCV Transmission

Today, HCV is spread a number of ways, which includes sharing needles and syringes, or other drug paraphernalia, when using drugs.

Health care workers are considered at highrt risk for catching Hepatitis C because they are exposed to blood and blood products. For example, after administering an injection to an HCV infected person, they could sustain a needle stick and possibly become infected with the virus.

Children that are born to mothers infected with the virus can develop Hepatitis C. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4 percent of infants born to mothers with Hepatitis C are infected with the virus.

Other HVC Transmission

According to the CDC, Hepatitis C can live outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for at least 16 hours but no longer than four days. Therefore, in rare cases HVC can be transmitted to a noninfected person who uses an infected person’s razor or other personal care items that could have blood on them. Tattoos and piercings, if obtained at a business that does not practice effective sanitation and infection control procedures, can also put a person at risk of contracting HCV.

Due to the possibility of passing infected blood directly to a noninfected person, HVC may be a result of sexual contact. Sexual transmission is more probable with multiple partners versus a monogamous relationship. If engaging in rough sex and anal sex, where minor tears can occur, the risk of contracting HCV through sexual contact is greater.


Hepatitis C cannot be passed by touching, kissing or being in general contact with an infected person. HCV is not passed when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by breastfeeding. HCV cannot be transmitted by eating utensils and is not spread through food or water prepared by an infected person.


Because Hepatitis C is transmitted through the blood, some precautions are necessary if living with someone infected with the virus or working in an at risk field like health care. Because HCV can also exist in dried blood, when cleaning any blood-contaminated surfaces or items, wear gloves and use a cleaning solution containing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, as recommended by the CDC. Steps should also be taken to guard against coming into direct blood-to-blood contact with an HCV infected person.

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