Hepatitis C is a contagious infection that causes inflammation of the liver tissue. Over time Hepatitis C can cause severe damage to the liver. There are often few early signs of Hepatitis C infection: often patients are unaware of their infection until years later when liver damage is evident in medical tests.

Learn more about the causes and symptoms of Hepatitis C here.

What increases my chances of contracting Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a preventable illness. There are several risk factors that increase your likelihood of contracting Hepatitis C:

Intravenous Drug Use: Injection drug users are at the greatest risk for contracting Hepatitis C. The shared use of contaminated needles is the number one way Hepatitis C is spread in the United States. Any individual who has used injection drugs are at risk, even if they had only used one time.

Exposure to Contaminated Blood: Recipients of blood or organs from a known Hepatitis C positive donor are at higher risk. Health care workers who may have been stuck with a contaminated needle are at greater risk. Blood spills are also a source of Hepatitis C as even dried blood can be infectious.

Tattoo or Piercing: Individuals who received tattoos or piercings in an unclean environment or with unsterilized equipment may have been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus if contaminated blood is present.

Babies Born to Infected Mothers: A small percentage, 4%, of children born to Hepatitis C positive mothers develop Hepatitis C.

Sexual Contact with an Infected Person: Having sexual intercourse with individuals infected with Hepatitis C can increase your risk of infection, although it is not a common source of transmission.

Sharing Personal Care Items: Sharing personal care items with an individual with Hepatitis C can increase your risk of infection. Such items include razors and toothbrushes, or any item on which contaminated blood may be present.

Avoiding high-risk behaviors will lower the risk of contracting the Hepatitis C infection. Infected individuals can also reduce the risk of passing the infections to others by limiting the risk of exposure to contaminated blood.

Treatments are available for individuals who have tested positive for Hepatitis C. Learn more about Hepatitis C treatment options here.

Jean Brown Research is currently seeking individuals 18 years and older who suffer from Hepatitis C for a clinical study for an investigational medication to treat Hepatitis C. Participants must not have received any previous treatment for Hepatitis C virus infection.

Qualified participants may receive related health care, investigational medication, and compensation for time and travel. Learn more about Jean Brown Research’s Hepatitis C study here.