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Understanding Hepatitis C

People who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C are greatly concerned about passing on the disease to their friends or family members. Many patients, as result, find it difficult to admit it to their loved ones. According to Alan Franciscus, this is one of the most common concerns among hepatitis C patients.

“Worrying about passing on the disease is pretty common,” Mr. Franciscus, the executive director of the Hepatitis C Support Project in San Francisco, said. “I see a lot of people who are HCV-positive who are more worried about transmitting the virus than their loved ones are.”

Hepatitis C can be difficult to transmit to another. This condition isn’t easily passed on to another through coughing or sneezing, hugging, kissing, sharing kitchen utensils or any casual contact. Unless the nipples are bleeding, hepatitis C is not spread through breastfeeding. There is also no danger of passing on the disease by sharing water or food with the diagnosed patient.

According to Howard J. Worman, MD, everyday contact with hepatitis C patients is not a health risk. An associate professor of medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Worman added, “The transmission rate between people in a household is probably just a little above zero.”

But hepatitis C can be transmitted through blood. To reduce the risk of spreading the disease, it is important to be mindful of these precautions:

  • Avoid sharing nail clippers, toothbrushes or razors that may have the hepatitis C patient’s blood on them.
  • Let the patient cover sores or open wounds with bandages. Also, kindly request a female patient to carefully dispose of her feminine products that might have blood on them such as tampons or sanitary napkins.
  • Ask the patient not to donate blood, semen or organs.

 

While it rarely happens, hepatitis C can also be transmitted through sex. The likelihood of spreading the disease is even lower in monogamous couples. For people with multiple partners, the use of condoms is highly recommended.

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