Advertisement

Spotlight Series on Hepatitis C

Information

Hepatitis C FAQs for Health Professionals

May 31, 2015

 < Prev  |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5 

Counseling Patients

What topics should be discussed with patients who have HCV infection?

  • Patients should be informed about the low but present risk for transmission with sex partners.
  • Sharing personal items that might have blood on them, such as toothbrushes or razors, can pose a risk to others.
  • Cuts and sores on the skin should be covered to keep from spreading infectious blood or secretions.
  • Donating blood, organs, tissue, or semen can spread HCV to others.
  • HCV is not spread by sneezing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or through food or water.
  • Patients may benefit from a joining support group.

What should HCV-infected persons be advised to do to protect their livers from further harm?

  • HCV-positive persons should be advised to avoid alcohol because it can accelerate cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.
  • Viral hepatitis patients should also check with a health professional before taking any new prescription pills, over-the counter drugs (such as non-aspirin pain relievers), or supplements, as these can potentially damage the liver.

Should HCV-infected persons be restricted from working in certain occupations or settings?

CDC's recommendations for prevention and control of HCV infection specify that persons should not be excluded from work, school, play, child care, or other settings on the basis of their HCV infection status. There is no evidence of HCV transmission from food handlers, teachers, or other service providers in the absence of blood-to-blood contact.


Advertisement

Hepatitis C and Health Care Personnel

What is the risk for HCV infection from a needlestick exposure to HCV-contaminated blood?

After a needlestick or sharps exposure to HCV-positive blood, the risk of HCV infection is approximately 1.8% (range: 0%-10%).

Other than needlesticks, do other exposures, such as splashes to the eye, pose a risk to health care personnel for HCV transmission?

Although a few cases of HCV transmission via blood splash to the eye have been reported, the risk for such transmission is expected to be very low. Avoiding occupational exposure to blood is the primary way to prevent transmission of bloodborne illnesses among health care personnel. All health care personnel should adhere to Standard Precautions . Depending on the medical procedure involved, Standard Precautions may include the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, masks, and protective eyewear).

What follow-up testing is recommended for health care personnel exposed to HCV-positive blood?

  1. For the source, perform baseline testing for anti-HCV.
  2. For the person exposed to an HCV-positive source, perform baseline and follow-up testing, including
    • baseline testing for anti-HCV and ALT activity AND
    • follow-up testing for anti-HCV (e.g., at 4-6 months) and ALT activity. If earlier diagnosis of HCV infection is desired, testing for HCV RNA may be performed at 4-6 weeks.
  3. Confirmation by supplemental anti-HCV testing of all anti-HCV results reported as positive by enzyme immunoassay.

Should HCV-infected health care personnel be restricted in their work?

There are no CDC recommendations to restrict a health care worker who is infected with HCV. The risk of transmission from an infected health care worker to a patient appears to be very low. All health care personnel, including those who are HCV positive, should follow strict aseptic technique and Standard Precautions, including appropriate hand hygiene, use of protective barriers, and safe injection practices.


Pregnancy and HCV Infection

Should pregnant women be routinely tested for anti-HCV?

No. Since pregnant women have no greater risk of being infected with HCV than non-pregnant women and interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission are lacking, routine anti-HCV testing of pregnant women is not recommended. Pregnant women should be tested for anti-HCV only if they have risk factors for HCV infection.

What is the risk that an HCV-infected mother will spread HCV to her infant during birth?

Approximately 6 of every 100 infants born to HCV-infected mothers become infected with the virus. Transmission occurs at the time of birth, and no prophylaxis is available to prevent it. The risk is increased by the presence of maternal HCV viremia at delivery and also is 2-3 times greater if the woman is coinfected with HIV. Most infants infected with HCV at birth have no symptoms and do well during childhood. More research is needed to find out the long-term effects of perinatal HCV infection.

Should a woman with HCV infection be advised against breastfeeding?

No. There is no evidence that breastfeeding spreads HCV. However, HCV-positive mothers should consider abstaining from breastfeeding if their nipples are cracked or bleeding.

When should children born to HCV-infected mothers be tested to see if they were infected at birth?

Children should be tested for anti-HCV no sooner than age 18 months because anti-HCV from the mother might last until this age. If diagnosis is desired before the child turns 18 months, testing for HCV RNA could be performed at or after the infant's first well-child visit at age 1-2 months. HCV RNA testing should then be repeated at a subsequent visit, independent of the initial HCV RNA test result.

 < Prev  |  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5 



This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

No comments have been made.
 

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Advertisement

The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.