Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection affecting the liver. The most common way to catch it is by sharing contaminated needles, spoons, and filters to inject drugs. If you have the hepatitis C virus you will be referred to a liver specialist.

What is it?

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection affecting the liver.

How do I catch it?

Sharing contaminated spoons, needles and filters to inject drugs is the most common way to catch hepatitis C.

Other causes include sharing notes for snorting drugs, transmission from mother to child and sexual transmission. Sexual transmission is more common when having anal sex, including fisting and the use of sex toys.

What symptoms could I have?

When they first catch hepatitis C, many people do not experience any symptoms.

You might experience mild flu-like symptoms including loss of appetite, nausea, joint pains and tiredness a few weeks after becoming infected.

Some people with hepatitis C will not develop liver problems and will stay well throughout their lives. Others may develop chronic (long-term) hepatitis C and will have the symptoms of a damaged liver including nausea, ongoing tiredness, vomiting, unexplained weight loss and jaundice (yellow skin). If this is not treated it will eventually lead to life threatening liver failure.

How do you test for it?

A blood test is used to diagnose hepatitis C. This can be done at your sexual health clinic.

You can use the service finder to find a testing service near you.

How do you treat it?

You will be referred to a liver specialist if you are diagnosed with hepatitis C. The virus can be treated for many people because there are increasingly effective treatments available. The earlier you can be tested the better because you can then be treated as quickly as possible.

How do I prevent it?

Using clean needles and works if injecting drugs or “slamming” and using a condom during sex can help to protect you against hepatitis C.