Hepatitis C is a contagious virus that is transmitted through contact with infected blood. This virus affects the liver of an infected individual. Over time, hepatitis C can cause significant damage to the liver as well as lead to the development of cancer. Many people who are infected with hepatitis C don’t experience any discernible signs or symptoms until their liver becomes damaged.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne illness, and it can be contracted by blood transfusion. Exposure to infected blood is a big risk factor for the transmission of hepatitis C, and many people became infected with hepatitis C via blood transfusions before screenings for contagious diseases became a routine practice.
Any activity that exposes an individual to blood also increases the risk for spreading hepatitis C. The most common way this infection is transmitted from one person to another is through sharing needles. Drug users have a high risk of contracting hepatitis C because of needle sharing. In some cases, medical professionals may contract hepatitis C due to an accidental needle prick after treating an infected individual. On some occasions, hepatitis C can be contracted from getting a tattoo or a body piercing with a tool that has not been thoroughly sterilized.
Sharing Razors or Toothbrushes
It is also possible to become infected with the hepatitis C virus through contact with toothbrushes, razors, or other objects exposed to blood contaminated with the hepatitis C virus. If you share a toothbrush or razor with an individual who has the infection, you can contract the infection. A razor can carry the virus if users cut themselves while shaving. Also, sores inside the mouth of an infected person can contaminate a toothbrush if blood, even a minute amount, is left behind on the toothbrush.
The hepatitis C virus can be contracted from an infected sexual partner, though this type of transmission is rare. Small tears on or around sexual organs may emit tiny amounts of blood. Menstrual blood can also carry the virus. The use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of hepatitis C transmission between individuals, although condoms do not fully eliminate the risk of infection.
The hepatitis C virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during childbirth, although this does not happen often. A mother who has contracted the virus should refrain from breastfeeding to minimize or prevent the chance of spreading hepatitis C to her infant.