The term 'hepatitis' indicates viral infections that cause inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A, B and C are the most common type of viruses that cause hepatitis. Hepatitis C virus can cause acute or chronic infection of the liver. Most people with acute hepatitis C infection recover but some may develop chronic infection of the liver. Chronic hepatitis C infection of the liver can progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer over several decades. Treatment for hepatitis C infection has many side effects and there is no vaccination to protect against hepatitis C, hence ways to reduce your risk of becoming infected are important.
- Practice safe sex. Avoid having unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. Use condom during sex. Condoms are considered one of the best ways to prevent any disease which can be transmitted sexually. Using condom for every sexual contact can significantly reduce your risk of getting infected with hepatitis C virus. However condoms are not 100 per cent effective at preventing transmission.
- Do not use illicit drugs, and if you cannot stop using them avoid sharing drug needles or other equipments
- Avoid sharing anything that might be contaminated with blood even grooming products such as a razor, toothbrush, fingernail clippers, etc.
- Health care professionals should follow standard precautions (such as wearing gloves) and handle needles and sharps safely.
- Be cautious when you go for body piercing and tattooing. If you go for tattoos or body piercings ensure that they are done with sterile tools and look for a reputable shop. Question the employees regarding how the equipment is cleaned and maintained and if they use sterile needles. If you are not satisfied look for another place.
Measures to avoid infecting others if you have hepatitis C
You can reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to others by:
- avoiding sharing personal items, such as toothbrushes or razors, for your own use.
- applying waterproof dressing if there is any cut or a graze on your body.
- cleaning any blood on surfaces with household bleach.
- avoiding sharing needles or syringes with others.
- avoiding donating blood.
- using condoms every time you have sex especially with a new partner.