Is Hepatitis C Contagious?
Transmission of Hepatitis C from Person to Person
Hepatitis C is considered to be contagious between people.
Generally the infectious agent may be transmitted by saliva, air, cough, fecal-oral route,
surfaces, blood, needles, blood transfusions, sexual contact, mother to fetus, etc.
Hepatitis C, although infectious, is not a genetic disease. It is not caused by a defective or abnormal gene.
The contagious disease, Hepatitis C, can be transmitted:
- by sexual conduct between people.
- from person to person by blood.
- from the mother to her fetus.
Spread by blood; less commonly by sex; not spread by incidental contact
such as handshake, hugging, kissing.
Contagiousness properties for Hepatitis C:
Contagious by sex?:
Contagious by physical contact (non-sexual)?:
Contagious by handshake?:
Contagious from kissing?:
Contagious from saliva?:
Contagious from blood?:
Contagious from blood transfusion?:
Contagious from intravenous needle usage?:
Contagious from needlestick injury?:
Contagious from mother to fetus (transplacental)?:
HCV is spread primarily by contact with blood
and blood products. Blood transfusions and the use of shared,
unsterilized, or poorly sterilized needles and syringes have been the main
causes of the spread of HCV in the United States. With the introduction in
1991 of routine blood screening for HCV antibody and improvements in the
test in mid-1992, transfusion-related hepatitis C has virtually
disappeared. At present, injection drug use is the most common risk factor
for contracting the disease. However, many patients acquire hepatitis C
without any known exposure to blood or to drug use.
(Source: excerpt from Chronic Hepatitis C Current Disease Management: NIDDK)
Primarily through contact with infected
blood; less commonly, through sexual contact and childbirth.
(Source: excerpt from Viral Hepatitis A to E and Beyond: NIDDK)
Discussion about Contagion of Hepatitis C:
Chronic Hepatitis C Current Disease Management: NIDDK (Excerpt)
Maternal-infant transmission is not
common. In most studies, only 5 percent of infants born to infected women
become infected. The disease in newborns is usually mild and free of
symptoms. The risk of maternal-infant spread rises with the amount of
virus in the mother's blood. Breast-feeding has not been linked to HCV's
Sexual transmission of hepatitis C between
monogamous partners appears to be uncommon. Whether hepatitis C is spread
by sexual contact has not been conclusively proven, and studies have been
contradictory. Surveys of spouses and monogamous sexual partners of
patients with hepatitis C show that less than 5 percent are infected with
HCV, and many of these have other risk factors for this infection. For
this reason, changes in sexual practices are not recommended for
monogamous patients. Testing sexual partners for anti-HCV can help with
patient counseling. People with multiple sex partners should be advised to
follow safe sex practices, which should protect against hepatitis C as
well as hepatitis B and HIV.
Sporadic transmission, when the source of
infection is unknown, occurs in about 10 percent of acute hepatitis C
cases and in 30 percent of chronic hepatitis C cases. These cases are also
referred to as sporadic or community-acquired infections. These infections
may have come from exposure to the virus from cuts, wounds, or medical
injections or procedures.
(Source: excerpt from Chronic Hepatitis C Current Disease Management: NIDDK
Facts About Hepatitis A and C: CDC-OC (Excerpt)
Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood, sexual contact, and from
(Source: excerpt from Facts About Hepatitis A and C: CDC-OC)
Facts About Hepatitis C: CDC-OC (Excerpt)
HCV is not spread by sneezing, hugging, coughing, breast feeding,
food or water, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or casual
contact. Tattooing and body piercing are not associated with HCV
(Source: excerpt from Facts About Hepatitis C: CDC-OC)
Breastfeeding: NWHIC (Excerpt)
Hepatitis C is another virus that may be transmitted through breastfeeding
if the mother has cracked or bleeding nipples. Otherwise, the risk of
Hepatitis C is the same whether breast or bottle fed. (Source: excerpt from Breastfeeding: NWHIC)
About contagion and contagiousness:
Contagion and contagiousness refers to how easily
the spread of Hepatitis C is possible from one person to another.
Other words for contagion include "infection", "infectiousness",
"transmission" or "transmissability".
Contagiousness has nothing to do with genetics
or inheriting diseases from parents.
For an overview of contagion,
see Introduction to Contagion.
» Next page: Treatments for Hepatitis C
Medical Tools & Articles:
Tools & Services:
Forums & Message Boards
- Ask or answer a question at the Boards: