What is hepatitis C?

WHAT IS HEPATITIS C?

Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver. Transmission occurs through blood to blood contact – when blood containing the virus enters the bloodstream of another person.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?

Hepatitis C injecting
Through any form of skin penetration with unsterile equipment including injecting equipment or needle stick injuries.
Hepatitis C transmission through razors
Sharing personal items that may have blood on them such as toothbrushes, razors, or sex toys.
Hepatitis C skin penetration
Skin penetration with unsterile tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture.

Very rarely, hepatitis C may also be transmitted during sex without a condom where blood is present. Find out more about how you can help prevent hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is not transmitted by casual contact like holding hands; kissing on the cheek; coughing or sneezing; sharing food; or sharing eating utensils.

Without treatment, about three quarters of people infected with hepatitis C develop chronic (long-lasting) infection and some eventually develop liver failure or cancer of the liver.

About a quarter of people infected with hepatitis C virus recover or 'clear' the infection without specific treatment.

There is treatment that can cure hepatitis C in 70-80% of cases, and treatment continues to improve. For further information visit Hepatitis NSW.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

Most people have no hepatitis C symptoms when they are first infected. If there are symptoms, they can include a mild flu-like illness, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue.

How do I get tested?

If you’ve been sharing injecting equipment or other unsterile skin penetration equipment, see your GP.