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Is my partner and everyone around me now at risk?

No. 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. You cannot transmit hepatitis C by touching, kissing, hugging or sharing cutlery and crockery.

Am I sexually infectious?

The risk of sexual transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a much debated subject, although it is generally accepted as being an extremely low risk,[1] it is much lower than many other identified transmission routes for hepatitis C. Naturally, 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 pose a risk although the risk of transmitting the virus in the absence of 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 have other sexually transmitted diseases. In addition sexual transmission is increased if the person with hepatitis C also has HIV. Click here to read research done on sexual transmission.

Can I transmit hepatitis C in other ways?

Sharing things such as razor blades, nail scissors, toothbrushes and hair clippers, also poses a risk. If your blood gets onto any of these implements, there is a small chance that someone using them may become infected, but only if they injure themselves and break their own skin (e.g. a cut). The same could also be applied to the sharing of towels - it’s possible your blood could get onto a towel and be used later by someone with an open wound.

It seems that HCV can live outside the body in dried blood for varying levels of time. This can vary from between sixteen hours to four days.[2] By taking a few simple steps to protect those around you, you can easily eliminate the potential risk to others.

It is also possible for a pregnant woman with hepatitis C to transmit the virus to her child. See "Mother to baby" section under 'risk factors'.


[1] http://www.hcvadvocate.org/hepatitis%5CBasics/sexual_transmission.pdf - accessed 30.03.2014.

[2] http://www.hcvadvocate.org/news/NewsUpdates_pdf/Advocate%202010/advocate0310.pdf accessed 30/03/14.

Further reading