Spotlight Series on Hepatitis C


Hepatitis C: How Is It Transmitted and Who Should Be Tested?

August 3, 2017


Why Is Needle Sharing So Dangerous?

Why Is Needle Sharing So Dangerous?

Sharing needles is the most common way people contract hepatitis C because the virus is transmitted via infected blood when a contaminated object is jabbed through the skin, touching an open wound. The virus can survive outside the human body for up to three weeks. Although hepatitis C is highly contagious, it cannot be transmitted by touching, kissing or coughing. It's other modes of transmission, via sexual intercourse or from mother to child, are rare.

Before 1992 -- the year blood screening for hepatitis C became available -- blood transfusion was the leading mode of transmission in the United States. That's one reason that baby boomers, or people born from 1945-1965, are five times more likely to have hepatitis C, according to the CDC, which recommends universal screening for this group. Baby boomers still comprise about 75% of all infections in the United States, but an alarming number of new infections are cropping up in people younger than 30 who share needles and other non-sterile equipment to inject drugs.

Image credit: diego_cervo for iStock via Thinkstock.

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