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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C Virus Transmission

HCV is transmitted primarily via exposure to infected blood or blood products. Any HCV carrier can potentially transmit the infection.5 The most common mode of transmission is sharing contaminated needles during intravenous (IV) drug use.6 Having had a blood transfusion before 1992 is a known risk factor as well. Other possible risk factors include body piercing, tattooing, and exposure to contaminated items such as toothbrushes, razor blades, or nail clippers.7,8 While sexual transmission of HCV is possible, rates are low.8-11

Approximately 6% of infants born to HCV-infected mothers acquire the infection during childbirth. Transmission risk increases 2- to 3-fold if the HCV infected mother also has human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Breastfeeding does not increase risk of transmission.7