8 Myths About Hepatitis C
There is not currently a hepatitis C vaccine in the U.S. Vaccines are available only for hepatitis A and B. But researchers now are working to develop one for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. While hepatitis C can be spead through sexual contact, risk of transmission is very low--although it does increase for people who have had multiple sex partners and those with HIV.
Even though hepatitis C affects the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, it is not caused by alcohol abuse. However, those with hepatitis C should avoid alcohol because it can cause further liver damage.
No research has shown that hepatitis C can be spread by mosquitoes or other insects.
While hepatitis C is not caused by drugs, many people now become infected by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Needlestick injuries in health care settings can also cause transmission. Also, about four out of every 100 babies born to mothers with hepatitis C become infected.
The risk of transmission through personal care items, such as razors or toothbrushes is very low. In addition, a few studies have indicated that hepatitis C is not spread through licensed, commercial tattooing facilities. But it is possible for the disease to be spread in tattoo businesses where infection-control practices are not followed.
Breastfeeding has not been shown to spread hepatitis C. Nor has kissing, coughing, sneezing or sharing utensils.
About 15 to 25 percent of people who get hepatitis C clear the virus from their bodies without treatment and do not develop a chronic condition. But for most people, the condition progresses from acute hepatitis C to chronic hepatitis C.