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The Transmission of HCV

Aug 16, 2018

Drug use

Intravenous drug use is a major risk factor for hepatitis C in many parts of the world. Of 77 countries reviewed, 25 (including the United States) were found to have prevalences of hepatitis C in the intravenous drug user population of between 60% and 80%. Twelve countries had rates greater than 80%.

Healthcare exposure

Blood transfusion, transfusion of blood products, or organ transplants without HCV screening carry significant risks of infection. Hospital equipment has also been documented as a method of transmission of hepatitis C, including reuse of needles and syringes; multiple-use medication vials; infusion bags; and improperly sterilized surgical equipment, among others.

Body modification

Tattooing is associated with two to threefold increased risk of hepatitis C. This can be due to either improperly sterilized equipment or contamination of the dyes being used. It is rare for tattoos in a licensed facility to be directly associated with HCV infection.

Shared personal items

Personal-care items such as razors, toothbrushes, and manicuring or pedicuring equipment can be contaminated with blood. Sharing such items can potentially lead to exposure to HCV. Appropriate caution should be taken regarding any medical condition that results in bleeding, such as cuts and sores.

Mother-to-child transmission

Mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis C occurs in less than 10% of pregnancies.There are no measures that alter this risk. It is not clear when transmission occurs during pregnancy, but it may occur both during gestation and at delivery.


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