There are many contagious diseases that spread through blood, but hepatitis C is definitely one of the most commonly found in many parts of the world. While it may not easily be spread, many people are still ignorant about the danger or the risk factors. In the US alone, for example, about 30,000 people are diagnosed with this disease every year, and more in countries where awareness about blood disease is still minimal. Knowing the risk factors will help you avoiding the disease, and even protect other people that you care about from getting it.
Hepatitis C Main Risk Factors
Hepatitis C mainly spreads through blood, in which the blood of an infected person enters the body of healthy person. However, there are other risk factors that cannot be neglected. Here are some hepatitis C risk factors to be aware of:
- Syringes and needles. These are the most common means of blood disease spreading, including hepatitis C. There are cases where syringes are used more than once in many parts of the world, or healthcare workers using needle sticks that are not sterilized properly. This is also common among people who use intravenous drugs, especially if they share syringes and needles.
- Infected tattoo gun/needle. Tattoo parlor with questionable hygiene standard can spread hepatitis C easily between customers, since the skin is pierced with needles and tattoo gun.
- Being born by infected mother. If a woman has hepatitis C and gives birth to a baby, there is a 6 out of 100 chance that the baby will also get hepatitis C.
- Blood transmission, organ donor, and dialysis. Although modern medicine has tightened the screening process for blood, donor organ and dialysis process, there are many cases around the world where the process is not enough, and infected blood or organs are passed to the patients. The same thing can also happen in semen donation.
- Sharing personal items. In some cases, hepatitis C spreads through sharing personal items with people who have hepatitis C, especially things that risk exposing the body to blood, such as razor blades, toothbrushes, or shaving tools.
- Sex. In some cases, hepatitis C can spread through sexual relationships. The risk is bigger in promiscuous people, gay people (anal sex has risk of infection through bleeding), and people with HIV. However, hepatitis C infection through sexual relationship is considered rare.
While hepatitis C can be treated, a person still can get it again if not careful. There is also no surefire vaccine that can protect from hepatitis C, so the best way is to do prevention steps.
Avoid sharing personal items that have possibilities to make you get contacted with blood, and do not get involved with activities such as sharing needles or doing drugs. If you want to get a tattoo or need to inject medicine such as insulin into your body, make sure the needles are hygienic and still new. If you have active sexual life, reduce the numbers of sexual partners you have. Avoiding hepatitis C is a better option than having to treat it later.