Hepatitis C: Know the Facts

Many people don’t know the facts about hepatitis C. You may be concerned about things you’ve heard. Read on to learn what’s true about hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and what’s not.

Man hugged by grandson.

Facts about HCV infection:

  • You can still have sex. Hepatitis C can be spread through sex, but this is uncommon. Your partner is safest if you use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex. If you’re in a committed relationship, you may not need to change your habits. Talk it over with your partner and do what feels right for both of you.

  • Your family members are safe. Hepatitis C can only be spread through contact with infected blood. Touching, kissing, and sharing food are all safe, as long as there is no blood exposure. But sharing anything that may have blood on it, like a toothbrush, needles, sharps, or razors, is not. Protect yourself by avoiding other people’s blood.

  • Most people with hepatitis C don’t die of it. Avoiding alcohol, losing weight, and taking other steps to protect your liver greatly reduces your chances of having life-threatening liver problems.

  • If you are a woman, you can still breastfeed. If you are being treated for hepatitis C, or if your nipples are cracked or bleeding, you should not breastfeed. Otherwise, breastfeeding with hepatitis C is safe.

  • You can have hepatitis C and not feel ill. Most people who have hepatitis C don’t have obvious symptoms. Severe symptoms are most common in later stages of the disease when cirrhosis develops.

  • HCV is curable. Discuss treatment options with your health care provider.

  • There is no vaccine for HCV. People who have been cured can get the disease again.

  • HCV can affect your whole body. Discuss any signs of HCV with your provider.

  • Diabetes and vascular disease are caused or worsened by HCV. Discuss these risks with a specialist.