Hepatitis C FAQs

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How common is HCV infection in people who inject drugs?

Nearly a third of all injection drug users (IDUs) under the age of 30 are infected with HCV. Almost 90 percent of older adults who are injecting and/or shared needles before 1980 have the disease.

If I’ve had hepatitis C before, can I still get a different strain of it?

Yes – a prior HCV infection does not protect you against the same or different genotype of the virus.

Can hepatitis C be transmitted through sex?

While you can get the virus by having sexual intercourse with an infected person, the risk is thought to be low. Sexually transmitted hepatitis C infection is higher in:

  • People with an HIV infection
  • Men having sex with men
  • Anal-receptive intercourse

How long can the hepatitis C virus survive outside of the body?

In room temperature, the hepatitis C virus can survive up to four days.

How common is hepatitis C in people who have HIV?

Nearly 50 to 90 percent of people with HIV who use injected drugs also have hepatitis C.

Should I get a flu shot if I have hepatitis C?

Yes – it is recommended that people who have HCV be vaccinated against the flu, as influenza can increase your risk of complications.

I’m sharing a house with someone who has hepatitis C. How likely is it that I will get the virus?

Transmission of hepatitis C within a household is extremely rare. Reduce your risk by avoiding using their razor, toothbrush, etc.

If I have hepatitis C should I avoid having children?

The risk of an infected mother transmitting hepatitis C to their newborn is approximately five percent. Antiviral medications can damage a baby in the womb and cause serious birth defects. So if you are planning to get pregnant, you should discuss this with a doctor.

What is a biopsy, and is there reason to do it more than once?

During a biopsy a tiny piece of your liver is removed and examined to determine the degree of damage in the liver. A local anesthetic and small needle are used. If it has been more than five years since your last biopsy and you want to know if your liver disease has progressed, your doctor may suggest performing another one.

What kind of foods should I avoid?

While hepatitis C isn’t a digestive disease, it’s good to eat healthy (even if you have a healthy liver). You should always avoid eating too much processed sugar, salt and fat.

Can I drink alcohol if I have hepatitis C?

Alcohol on top of hepatitis C can exacerbate inflammation and scarring of the liver. Drinking alcohol is not recommended.

NOTE: If you are waiting for a transplant, have severe cirrhosis, or currently taking medications, you cannot drink alcohol.

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