How do people get hepatitis C?

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Hepatitis C spreads when the blood of a person who is infected with hepatitis C gets into the body of a person who does not have hepatitis C.
Medically reviewed by
AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
Last updated
March 28, 2022

Hepatitis C infection happens most often in people who:

  • Share unsterile (dirty) needles for injection of illegal drugs (for example, heroin)
  • Are being treated in a health care setting where needles or other medical tools are not sterilized (cleaned) in the right way

Much less often, hepatitis C can happen:

  • When a child is born to a mother who has hepatitis C
  • From having sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis C
  • From sharing items like a toothbrush or a razor with a person who has hepatitis C (the gums sometimes bleed on a toothbrush and people sometimes accidentally cut themselves while shaving)

In the past, hepatitis C would happen from:

  • Medical procedures involving donated blood (before 1992)
    • Before this time, the screening process for blood diseases within donated blood was not well controlled.
  • Medical equipment contaminated with hepatitis C, before strict infection control was required